our speaker tonight:
edward j. ruppelt
Above: July 29, 1952 photo op showing from left, Captain R.L. James, Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey (seated, left), Capt. Edward Ruppelt (standing, center), Maj. Gen. John A. Samford (seated, right), Col. Donald L. Bower, and B.L. Griffing.
CAPT. EDWARD J. RUPPELT -- who for two short years headed the official Air Force investigation now known as Project Blue Book -- was (and is) arguably the most important and influential figure in the historical study of the early decades of the phenomenon variously known as "flying saucers", "flying discs", "unknown aerial objects", and "unidentified flying objects". Over the course of the relatively short period in which Ruppelt found himself in the spotlight, he not only doggedly pursued and rescued old witness reports from oblivion, but conceived and coordinated new collection and analysis procedures for the Air Force which would endure for many years to come. At a time when ridicule had become the order of the day in both the military and in the press, Ruppelt brought respectability both to the subject itself and to the witnesses involved -- first throughout the various commands of the Air Force, and then to the press and the public at large. Because of his efforts, researchers today can still delve deep into the details of a reported sighting and its investigation from more than a half-century past. Because of his writings, researchers can still study the dynamics at work behind the scenes both in the Air Force and with the various other players of his time.
In short, the history of the UFO phenomenon during its earliest -- and most important -- years might well remain today only as rumor and myth, had Edward James Ruppelt not passed our way.
But in order to fully understand the history of those years, it is necessary also to understand the history of the man himself, and the times in which he dwelt.
Above: "Iowa Agriculture", a 1937 Works Progress Administration mural by Richard Haines, located in the Cresco, Iowa, Post Office building. The mural -- depicting several generations of the same farm family -- reflects Haines' own upbringing in Marion, Iowa.
BY ALL ACCOUNTS, Edward J. Ruppelt so embodied the best traditions of the corn-fed Iowa boy that as a youth he might have stepped comfortably into the midst of an Andy Hardy film and fit right in. But then again, Andy Hardy was a fictional character, an arcadian Hollywood ideal of small-town life -- while Edward James Ruppelt was raised in a time of very real desperation for the nation as a whole, and for Iowa in particular.
Times had been good to Iowa's farmers during World War I (the "war to end all wars"). Corn and hog prices had soared -- in 1918 a hog could bring an Iowa farmer $330, at a time when a new Ford Touring Car cost $400. But with the signing of the armistice, Iowa's farmers -- so vital to feeding a world at war -- began to face strict tariffs against food exports worldwide. As a result, not only food but land prices fell dramatically, and the years 1920 and 1921 brought with them a great recession accompanied by a stock market plunge of 47 percent and a rapid deflation of agricultural prices. America soon bounced back, in part -- the economic boom times of the "Roaring Twenties" lay just ahead. But that boom was very much an urban phenomenon. In rural communities, the outlook continued to be bleak.
Such was the world into which Edward James Ruppelt was born, on July 17, 1923, at Grundy Center, Iowa.
Above: Grundy Center, Iowa, the seat of Grundy County. In front is the county courthouse, with the county jail and Grundy Center Hotel in the background.
BUT EVEN AS A NEWBORN in hard times, Edward J. Ruppelt still had the good fortune to be welcomed as the first child into a family which if not rich, was well established and better off than many.
His father, 31-year old Edward Alford (hereinafter, "E.A.") Ruppelt, was born July 26, 1891, at Steamboat Rock, Iowa -- the fourth of eleven children of Gustave Herman Ruppelt and Etje Hinderks Tammen Ruppelt (nee Christians), both of them being German emigrants to the United States; his mother, 28-year old Bessie Rose Ruppelt (nee Maxwell) had been born December 6, 1894, at Crawfordville, Iowa -- the second of five children, both of Bessie's parents having Iowa roots stretching back generations (especially those of her father, whose ancestors arrived on American shores from Ireland in the late 1700s).
In 1917 -- following E.A.'s service in the Army Air Corps during the war -- E.A. and Bessie married, having first met while attending Iowa Teachers College in Cedar Falls, Iowa. While there, E.A. was taking pre-law courses (after having first attended from 1911 through 1914) and Bessie was studying to become a teacher.
In 1919, E.A. received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago. Returning to Steamboat Rock, he gained a position as an attorney at the law offices of Lundy, Peisen and Sober. Soon thereafter, E.A. and Bessie Ruppelt moved to Grundy Center, Iowa, where he became a partner in the law firm of Rogers and Ruppelt. In 1926, E.A. was elected Grundy County attorney, running unopposed and garnering 2,501 votes. The next year, 1927, the couple welcomed another son into the family, James M. Ruppelt.
One of E.A. Ruppelt's younger brothers, Ernest William Ruppelt -- born five years after E.A. -- followed his older brother's footsteps into the law, first attending Iowa Teachers College and then earning his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Chicago. In 1924, Ernest William Ruppelt married Alice Myrtle Maxwell -- younger sister of E.A Ruppelt's wife Bessie. Thus Edward Alford Ruppelt and Ernest William Ruppelt were both brothers and brothers-in-law to each other. Likewise, Bessie Ruppelt and Alice Ruppelt were both sisters and sisters-in-law alike.
In 1926 Ernest Ruppelt went to work for his brother E.A. at Rogers and Ruppelt. In 1929, Ernest moved on to Waterloo, Iowa, where for the next three years he made a separate reputation as a defense attorney. In 1932, he returned to Grundy Center, rejoining his brother at Rogers and Ruppelt while at the same time being appointed assistant Grundy Center county attorney. In 1934, Ernest was elected Grundy County attorney, replacing his older brother E.A., who was retiring from the post.
Such was the stock from which Edward James Ruppelt was bred -- a family both extremely close and extremely large, valuing diligence in both work and education. At the time of his birth in 1923, a dozen uncles and aunts were still living (his paternal uncle Dickie Ruppelt passed away in 1917, age 19, and his uncle Gustave Ruppelt died in 1925, age 32, while his maternal uncle Bower Maxwell passed away in 1892, two years before the birth of Edward J. Ruppelt's mother). There were also nearly two-dozen cousins already born or arriving in the not-too-distant future, and dozens of other relatives in an extended lineage (just one example -- his paternal grandfather's brother died in Iowa in 1933, survived by 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren).
And it is thanks to such family ties that much is known about Ruppelt's youth.
Above: Cars gathered at Grundy Center, Iowa for the 1931 National Cornhusking Contest.
EDWARD J. RUPPELT never wrote of his own upbringing.
Some of it can be surmised through the history of the times. Though his family was economically comfortable (one of the relative few in Iowa to have a radio, according to the 1930 census), the state of Iowa was in turmoil for much of the 1920s and 1930s -- a period which economist Neil Harl of Iowa State University labeled "the worst period of civil disorder in the state's history". During the years of the Great Depression the Iowa National Guard was called out to put down farmer uprisings, and martial law was declared twice in the western part of the state. Farm foreclosures were sometimes met by armed resistance, while intimidation became the norm at the auctions of foreclosed property, where according to the Des Moines, Iowa, Register, "farmers would turn up at foreclosure sales with weapons or clubs on display and inform strangers that outside bids were distinctly unwelcome. The farmers would then bid only pennies for the distressed property." In 1933, a large-scale general farmers strike was planned under the banner of a "Farmers' Holiday", the rallying cry embodied in the anthem...
Let's call a Farmers' Holiday
A Holiday let's hold
We'll eat our wheat and ham and eggs
And let them eat their gold.
The strike, as it turned out, lost its momentum with the passage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of April 1933 -- though unrest simmered for some time thereafter. Adding to the farmers' woes, Iowa endured several years of drought and exceptionally hot summers, and entire crops were lost to the heat in 1934 and 1936. Those same years were the "dust bowl" years, when grasshoppers invaded parts of Iowa in such numbers that not even the wooden handles of farm tools were safe from their voracious pillage. Nor were the cities and towns spared -- Iowa's urban economy was largely dependent on the fate of the farmers. And little Grundy Center, Iowa -- population approximately 2,000 -- was no exception.
And so Ed Ruppelt's childhood (though marginally better than many in Iowa) was typical of children during the Great Depression, and whatever fun or entertainment there was to be found was largely dependent on each child's imagination.
Though raised in a town that acted as the county seat, Grundy Center was still primarily rural, and so the first entertainment likely lay in what nature provided. No doubt the dozens of bird species flying overhead or nesting nearby -- purple martins, woodpeckers, blackbirds, cardinals, blue jays, sparrows, starlings, meadow larks and hawks, to name a few -- attracted some of young Ed Ruppelt's eager attention. In addition, with Iowa as a major migratory route, each season brought forth its own splendor of birds passing through, with the ruby-throated hummingbird buzzing merrily in the summer, followed by the wood warbler singing out its praises in autumn, and finally the snowy owl settling in wise repose for the winter. Game animals were rare and few in number, but the sight of the ubiquitous cottontail rabbit and red fox no doubt sent any child's heart racing, while the squirrels and chipmunks remained ever-moving and ever-wily, just out of reach. Each Iowa season also brought with it a different backdrop. The growing seasons returned each year with a varied carpet of wildflower colors to behold -- blue-violet-white in the spring and red-yellow-orange-gold in the summer. Autumn saw the wildflowers mostly gone but the trees alight in orange, yellow, and fire-red hues, while in winter a cloak of endless white reached to the horizon.
It was against this backdrop that Ruppelt's childhood and adolescence played out. Naturally energetic and bright -- his cousin Jean recalled that as a boy he "found something 'inter'sting' to do every day" -- young Ruppelt was full of an ingenuity and sense of adventure that would do any Mark Twain boy-hero proud. In a letter to researcher Michael David Hall, his cousin Jean Evans shared her memories of those times...
The neighborhood of our small town included several boys his age, and they were always out to play during the summer. Their expeditions to the crick went not far away so they could run home for lunch when the noon whistle blew. After school in winter it was sledding on the schoolhouse hill, steep at the top and sloping down for many blocks... All the little boys wore aviator helmets and goggles. In the house they made an airplane using kitchen chairs and table leaves. They flew toy planes down the stairs on a "cord-string."
With the years the play became more sophisticated. Under a big grape arbor the wide sand box provided weeks of construction site. Sometimes a city, again an airfield, often a theater of war would last till rain wiped it out. Green grapes were such great ammunition that there were some seasons only a few (were) left for making jelly...
They built a city from cardboard boxes, stuffed them with newspapers and started the Chicago fire. The hose was ready and water was cheap. Another time the kids walled up the whole area with bricks and mud and flooded the universe... Once a long, galvanized horse tank showed up, perhaps as a lawyers' fee in kind. Eddie tried to sell tickets, but in those days no kid had money...
As an older kid Ed was great on salvaging discards from downtown alleys or the city dump to use for making things...
When a pair of telegraph keys came into his possession, he worked a long time rewinding the coils. More successful with the gang was a second hand microphone that worked on their big cabinet radio. With a little help from his friends, Ed re-ran The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen and Jack Armstrong. The boys begged their dads to buy their gas at the Skelly station in another town, and their moms to try Wheaties...
Wooden orange crates evolved into racers with roller skate wheels...
A continuing spur to Ed's ingenuity was the collection of old doors kept in the wood shed. He seemed to be able to make darn near anything with the doors and the picnic table... The doors were always needed for a new project. There was going to be an eclipse of the moon. Ed and another boy, being promised a share of the field glasses, if it wasn't cloudy, built up the doors on the side of the shed. They knocked out a few panels for the observatory. In the daytime it served as a fort, a place to keep their big-little books, and practice writing code with their Orphan Annie rings. Ed and others made up mystery stories and solved many murders of the same headless dressmaker's form, sometimes for an audience in the basement...
Obviously a loving cousin with many fond memories of the boy she knew, Jean Evans goes on to give many other details of young Edward J. Ruppelt's life. In high school he became manager for the school athletic teams, where he "ran errands, measured, marked, repaired, recorded, bandaged, consoled and congratulated... he lugged the laundry home to wash daily, and had it back in time for next practice." He also tried his hand at playing the clarinet (unsuccessfully) and becoming a photographer (successfully). On top of all that, the teenage Ruppelt found a job delivering groceries, driving the family Model A pickup truck, where he...
...heard all the latest from Main Street, and the conversation in the kitchens gave him material for entertaining the folks at home. He was always funny, but never unkind, and collected "characters" and "phenomena" to remember...
He liked to drive around on Sunday afternoons, a very moderate pastime, checking the mileage between favorite local places and "circumnavigating the town" to wave at everybody "and their dog."
And in a day when respect for schools and teachers went unquestioned, his formal education prepared him well for his future endeavors in one key area...
In high school our English teachers not only loved literature but placed importance on speaking and writing. Each class of 25 to 30 students was divided into three groups, and every week each group wrote essays or gave speeches, in rotation. After three or four years of such an intensive program even the shy and the doubtful benefited.
But of equal importance in the youth and adolescence of Edward J. Ruppelt was this...
His favorite thing of all time was making airplanes. They stood on his shelves and hung from his ceiling on invisible thread... The models came in a kit, named for famous flights and fliers...
...with much the same told by his brother, Jim, as related in another letter to researcher Michael David Hall...
...Ed must have started building airplane models at a very young age. I am four years younger than he was and I cannot remember far enough back to a time when he was not building airplane models. His room was full of them. It was a major hobby when he was in grade school. Mostly he would build rubber band powered flying models. As I remember, some flew very successfully and some did not.
His cousin Jean would sum up Edward J. Ruppelt's time in high school...
Ed was not the valedictorian, but always "most likely to" be and do whatever came along.
But unbeknownst at the time, "whatever came along" would soon unsettle the hopes, dreams and futures of the good people of Grundy Center, Iowa -- and forever affect the life of Edward J. Ruppelt.
Above: Sailor killed in Japanese surprise attack on U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, December 7, 1941. The surprise attack (launched without a formal declaration of war by Japan) began at 7:55 a.m. Japanese naval forces included 4 heavy aircraft carriers, 2 heavy cruisers, 35 submarines, 2 light cruisers, 9 oilers, 2 battleships and 11 destroyers. The attacking forces came in two waves, the first consisting of 183 aircraft which included 40 torpedo planes, 49 level bombers, 51 dive bombers and 43 fighters. The second wave included 170 planes, 54 of them level bombers, 80 dive-bombers and 36 fighters. The United States battleships Arizona, California and West Virginia were sunk. The battleship Oklahoma capsized, and damage was sustained by the remaining battleships: Maryland, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. The destroyers Cassin, Downes, and Helm were also damaged, along with the cruisers Helena, Honolulu, and Raleigh. In addition, 169 United States aircraft were destroyed, with a further 159 damaged. Killed were 2,008 sailors, 218 soldiers and airmen, 109 marines, and 68 civilians. Wounded were 710 sailors, 364 soldiers and airmen, 69 marines and 35 civilians. A state of war was declared by Congress against Japan the next day. Three days later, December 11, 1941, Germany and Italy issued declarations of war against the United States. That same day the United States replied in kind.
EDWARD J. RUPPELT was attending Iowa State College on the day the Japanese launched a devastating surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It was his second semester at college, after first attending Iowa Teachers College, the alma mater of his mother and father. His chosen major was mechanical engineering -- dashing the hopes of his father, who would have been very pleased had Ed followed him into the law.
Also attending Iowa State at the time was nursing student Elizabeth Ann Clay -- like Ed, from Grundy Center, Iowa. When they first met is not a matter of record -- she was 15 months younger, and so would likely have been a junior when Ed was a senior in high school. But Grundy Center was small, and it is likely that they at least knew of each other for many years, and may even have been friends or sweethearts before college. In any case, Ed and Elizabeth were dating while attending Iowa State.
The first Ruppelt to answer the call of his country was Ed's 46-year old uncle, Ernest Ruppelt. Having served in the Army Air Corps during World War I, he re-entered service in June, 1942, with the rank of Major, assigned to the weather wing of the Army Air Corps. Then, on November 11, 1942, the Waterloo, Iowa, Daily Courier carried the following announcement concerning a local 19-year old...
Edward Ruppelt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ruppelt, has enlisted in the air corps. He will continue his studies in college until he is called to report for duty.
The newspaper's next announcement came on February 3, 1943...
Edward Ruppelt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Ruppelt, left for Des Moines Tuesday. He enlisted some time ago in the air corps.
Eleven weeks later, on April 23, 1943, the Daily Courier carried an announcement that "Pvt. Edward Ruppelt... has been sent to San Antonio, Tex., for pre-flight instruction."
Meanwhile, as Edward J. Ruppelt prepared himself for combat, his uncle Ernest was serving in the brutal Pacific theater of war, as from the Daily Courier edition of July 16, 1943...
Major Ernest Ruppelt and Sgt. Robert Grimes met each other on one of the South Pacific islands. They had been stationed close together neither knowing they were on the same island. Neither of these men, both Grundy Center residents, had seen any one from home since leaving the United States until this meeting.
Nine months following the announcement that Ed Ruppelt had been sent to Texas, on February 13, 1944, the paper announced...
Edward J. Ruppelt, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Ruppelt of Grundy, Center, has been graduated from the San Angelo, Tex., army air field of the West Texas bombardier quadrangle with his bombardier's wings and a commission as a second lieutenant. He will be assigned to an operational training unit where he will join other crew members to form an aerial combat team. Lieutenant Ruppelt attended Iowa State Teachers college and Iowa State college.
Three weeks later, his uncle Ernest would return stateside, awaiting reassignment after more than a year in the Pacific. Then, on March 26, 1944, the Daily Courier announced...
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ruppelt received word from their son, Lt. Edward Ruppelt, Jr., that he is being transferred to Boca Raton, Florida, from Hampton, Va. Lieutenant Ruppelt is a bombardier-navigator in the air service.
In May, 1944, Ed's uncle Ernest Ruppelt completed his service...
Maj. Ernest Ruppelt, who entered the army two years ago has been released from active duty. He was in the air service and spent about 18 months in the south Pacific.
Returning to Grundy Center, Ernest Ruppelt was installed in July, 1944, as District Commander of American Legion Post 349. Meanwhile, though Ed Ruppelt's journey is unclear over the coming six months, on January 2, 1945, the Daily Courier carried the announcement...
Mr. and Mrs. Edward Ruppelt received word that their son, Lt. Edward Ruppelt, has arrived at an air base somewhere in the Burma-India war zone. Lieutenant Ruppelt is a bombardier on a B-29 Super Fortress of the 20th air force His wife is visiting at the home of his parents.
The wife unnamed in the announcement was the former Elizabeth Ann Clay, the nursing student from Iowa State. Although the circumstances of their engagement and wedding are difficult to discern, his cousin Jean says, "Ed and Liz were married before he went overseas."
It had been four years since Pearl Harbor, and nearly two years since Edward Ruppelt had been lured from college by the siren call of duty to his country.
Now his literal trial by fire was about to begin.
Above: Bombardier seat in the nose of a B-29 Superfortress.
EDWARD J. RUPPELT entered combat on December 14, 1944, as a member of the 444th Bombardment Group, based in India. The 21-year old occupied the bombardier seat in the nose of a B-29 "Superfortress". In his training Ruppelt had read that in a "B-29 no one man is self-sufficient. Each and every man depends on the ten other men of the crew for the successful completion of his job under any circumstances." Now he was to find out how true the words were in practice.
The B-29 had just been introduced into operations six months before. It incorporated the most advanced bomber technology of the time, including a pressurized cabin for high-altitude flight. But its most important tactical feature was its unprecedented range -- a startling 3,250 miles. This VLR (very long range) capability was imperative to Allied success in the Pacific. At the beginning of the war Japan had conquered so much territory (including a large swath of China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, New Guinea, the Philipines, Brunei, Indonesia and Guam) that it had been impossible to launch a sustained air strike against the Japanese mainland because of the distances involved. This had forced a bloody and brutal island-by-island battle across the Pacific, with each Allied victory resulting in a new airfield that could be used to project air power a little further. Now with the B-29 Superfortress, strikes against Japanese-occupied territory as well as Imperial Japan could be launched from great distances. The downside was the limited range of available escort fighters, which meant B-29 bomber forays deep into enemy territory went unaccompanied by fighter protection (to help compensate, B-29s also incorporated remote-control operation of machine-gun turrets).
The break-in period for the new craft had been tumultuous, as described in The Pictorial History of the 444th Bombardment Group, published in 1947...
The need for very long range bombers has been a controversial matter in the High Command ever since the fracus [sic] involving that grand old soldier, General Billy Mitchell. Military strategists will decide the timeliness of this weapons arrival but only those early men who readied this plane and flew it can fully know the harsh pains of its birth and dangerously rapid development. Like a proud parent they hide their pride because of the hopelessness of attempting to explain their sense of achievement to another.
Perhaps to those not air minded, matters of explosive decompression at altitude, of engine temperatures soaring above 300° C, of props that refused to "feather", of remote controlled turrets "cooking off" and spraying wildly, of multiplied stresses from unprecedented loads, perhaps these and other situations are uninteresting and unimpressive. To the men who flew these early planes they were, at the least, serious and often fatally dangerous. They meant engine fires (perhaps consuming a wing before men could "bail out"), gunners "cannon balled" from the cabin when their "blister blew," planes shuddering and mushing off the runway and hugging the ground until they disappeared in the distance in their pitiful attempt to gain speed and engine cooling, ships in formation riddling each other or themselves with 50 caliber bullets -- friendly fire but none the less destructive. Each crew member pondered over these possibilities and forcefully dismissed them or quit. No one quit...
April 12 (1944), the first B-29 rolled to a smoking, brake screeching stop on a short runway in India... Bewildered crews climbed out into the blast furnace heat and viewing the single short dusty runway, the bone dry rice paddies, the dark emaciated dirty natives, attempted to reconcile this scene with the reports they had heard of super luxurious B-29 air bases. Fortunately, the need for becoming operational immediately absorbed most of the attention, leaving little time or energy for contemplation of the minor woes of living and operational comfort...
Mere words are inadequate to describe the superior ingenuity, exacting care, and almost fanatical energy displayed by the engineering personnel in "licking" the manifold problems which arose in the furnace heat and drenching rains of Monsoon India and the damp piercing cold of China. These men labored with burning determination and prayerful hope in efforts to get their airplanes "over the hump" and off on missions against the enemy and they ill concealed their mental anguish when their plane "aborted."
Probably the greatest defect of the R-3350 engine lay in the constant failure of exhaust valves and vale guides on the critical top cylinders. These "swallowed valves" usually resulted in complete engine failure and often serious fires in flight. Crew chiefs learned to prevent this condition by side play checks or compression checks of the critical cylinders after each flight. Other causes of engine fires were worn ball joints and "burned out" short stacks on the exhaust collector rings (which were aptly termed a ten cent gadget on a million dollar airplane), broken off carburetor duct baffles which fell on the carburetor "air in" screens, and carburetor baffles which had a habit of vibrating loose.
Resistors on the electric prop governor control often failed making it impossible for the pilot to change prop position. At times the dump valve in the base of the prop governors would fail allowing the prop to run away. Wing cell gas leaks were also quite common and usually traced to an access door in the cell itself. The lower wing panels were removed and the change effected with the aid of native bamboo as wing braces. This simple recital of maintenance troubles sounds commonplace now but at that time the solution of these difficulties was of life and death concern to the pilots and crews who flew these planes with soaring cylinder temperatures, run away props on take off, flaming and disintegrating engines with props that refused to feather in flight. During the first few months the record engine time before change was 100 hours, average take off cylinder temperatures were 290° and four forced landings because of fire were accomplished in one day. At the end of four months in India, the ironic boast was that it was now a proven fact that a B-29 could be raised from the ground twice in one week without the aid of jacks.
June 5, 1944 the first B-29 bombing mission was executed -- against Bangkok, Siam. The offensive was on. Early in the morning the B-29s staggered into the air with vapor trails pouring off the wings. This was the beginning of the pay off for the men who had built this machine, the finest airplane on earth, and the proficiency test of the air crews who flew her. It proved to be a deadly combination. The Jap fighters discovered that they were no match for our speed and fire power. Weather prevented our planes from joining in formation and effectively bombing the target but the crews returned with high confidence in the B-29 and in their own abilities. The green light was on.
The next raid, Yawata, Japan -- the homeland. This was the first raid staged from the advanced base in China and the first bombing of Japan itself since the B-25 Doolittle Raid. Crew members, nervous with anticipation sat on pine benches that rainy morning in China while the Intelligence Officer announced the target and described its value and defenses. The Imperial Iron and Steel Works, producers of one fifth of the steel for Japan's War Machine would be struck. Silence broken only by the sound of rain on the crude bamboo and mud roofs followed the dramatic announcement as each crew member considered the long distance to be flown, the unknown enemy defenses, the mechanical condition of his individual airplane, and his own reaction to the dangers and strain of the hours ahead. At the conclusion of the briefing everyone rushed out to his plane. It wasn't time for take off and everything had been double checked but they wanted to be near the conveyance that was to carry them 3200 miles over mountains, occupied territory, and open sea within the next few hours. It was nearly dusk when the first of the silver planes rolled down the muddy runway, immediately followed by the rest of the striking force facing a rendezvous with -- what? The hours rolled on, each man occupied with his own thoughts until their reverie was shattered by the navigator's announcement, "One hour from the 'Initial Point'." Soon thereafter the radar operator reported his set working and the I.P. in sight. Radar, the gadget we had looked upon as a fancy but impractical non-workable device in the B-29 received its baptism of fire this night and showed itself to be an invaluable navigational and bombing aid. Dead ahead lay the target with searchlights stabbing upwards and B-29s shining in their piercing rays. Each plane drove into the lights and was suddenly bathed in the dazzling brightness. The night sky was filled with orange bursts from the thundering AA guns far below. Angry fighters made passes to the tune of chattering 50 caliber turrets on the 29s. Each bombardier salvoed the full weight of his bombs on the city below, the "bombs away" light flashed on the pilot's panel, and the ship dove away in a shallow turn to the right in an effort to pick up additional speed and gain the comparative safety of the China Sea. With engines purring smoothly, each crew member listening to the tail gunner's description of the inferno steadily retreating on the eastern horizon...
Such was the team of battle-hardened veterans with whom Ruppelt would fly on his first combat mission, six months almost to the day after that first raid on Japan. No doubt, through his mind ran some recital of his responsibilities, enumerated in the Combat Crew Manual of the 20th Air Force...
The combat bombing run, from the Initial Point until bombs are away, will seldom last more than a few minutes; but the offensive effort of bombing and the purpose of the mission is achieved in that fractional part of an hour. To be able to achieve that purpose, you, as bombardier, have spent many hours over the bombing ranges of the U.S. Now you will spend more practice hours flying over the bombing ranges of India. You must continue to learn and to perfect your technique even to the eventful day when you have completed an operational tour.
Much is expected of you as a bombardier. If you are leading, you aim not only your bombs but those of the rest of the formation. If you are flying a wing ship, your job is to release your bombs at the proper instant to supplement the pattern made by the lead ship. If your navigator is injured, you must be able to continue with the navigation accurately and confidently. You will also man a gun sighting station and you must be proficient in its use, care and operation. Learn all you can about your Central Fire Control equipment. Your knowledge and skill in gunnery is sound insurance. You will be the photographer of your crew and as such will be responsible for obtaining strike photographs of your bombs. It will be necessary to make periodic checks to make certain that the camera equipment is in proper working condition.
Thus, a heavy responsibility befalls the bombardier and it entails more than a few minutes work on the bombing run. Every bombardier, after his training period is concluded, is capable in the mechanics of hitting any target within reason. Nevertheless, many more new techniques must be mastered and the old ones practiced before accurate combat bombing is achieved.
Now was the moment when all the months and months of training would finally pay off, and Ruppelt would be truly fighting for his country at last.
While still on the ground Ruppelt would be expected to complete his pre-flight checklist: a "complete and thorough preflight of the bombsight", setting the bombardier's altimeter to 29.2, checking the condition of the bombs aboard and their fuses, checking the working condition of the intervalometer (which triggered timed camera exposures), confirming the interphone was operational, confirming the bomb bay and hatch doors were operational, and checking the camera installation, the camera vacuum valves, and the camera position setting, and finally, inspecting the "bombardiers kit" to ensure all items were present and accounted for -- including E6B and C-2 "computers", a "tangent of dropping angle scale for ABC" (automatic bomb computer), a stopwatch, a tachometer, a pair of pliers and a screwdriver, as well as "complete target information".
As his B-29 rose into the air from his base at Dudhkundi, India, there would be further duties to perform as the formation made its way toward Japanese-occupied Bangkok...
After take off and on climbing to altitude, it is well to assist the navigator in all important jobs of assembly by doing pilotage to check against his DR navigation. Pilotage checks should be made on the way to the target to make certain that your course will bring you to the assigned IP.
On the route out to your target every attempt should be made to practice synchronization to get accurate winds and ground speeds by use of the Automatic Bomb Computer, which will be valuable to both the navigator and yourself. Remember that every known aid to bombing has been placed at your disposal and all that remains to accomplish a successful mission is the proper use of these aids.
At altitude request the pilot to turn the ship over to you for several minutes so a thorough check can be made on the C-l autopilot. In order to operate properly, the C-l autopilot must be readjusted after some of the fuel supply is used. So do not wait for the pilot to call for a check. Remind him! While adjusting the C-l, gentle turns should be made from both the pilot and bombardier's positions. If the system does not meet with your approval, then shut it off and prepare to make a manual run. Nothing will give you a better chance to hit the target than the C-I autopilot when it is operating correctly, but it is far better to make manual run if it is evident that the automatic equipment is not functioning properly. Another important factor about the use of the automatic pilot is the importance of knowing how to lead a formation. This cannot be stressed too much. You must remember your turns or corrections are not only affecting your aircraft, but those of your whole group as well as the groups behind you. It is imperative that your corrections be gentle and that no one turn is sustained for a long period of time. Steep or violent turns spread the formation and make it vulnerable to fighters.
During the entirety of that flight -- a round-trip of 2261 air miles, if his craft was fortunate enough to be able to return to base -- Ruppelt flew at 20,000 feet over some of the world's most ancient civilizations, though most of the flight was over the Bay of Bengal, the largest in the world. As his formation reached the "Initial Point" (where the final approach to the target began), his role as bombardier would reach full expression...
The bomb bay doors should be opened by each group after leaving the IP so that each airplane has a chance to open the doors and get into position. The whole idea of formation precision bombing is built on the premise that the bombs will form a pattern on the ground the size and shape of the formation flown. It can readily be seen that the concentration of bombs desired on the Mean Point of Impact cannot be achieved if the formation is spread out and the planes are straggling.
If you know your target, you will see it from the IP, or at any rate, you will see your check points which will pin-point you into the target. If you find these quickly, pre-set your data, and you will have a normal run, your procedure will work out smoothly and you will have plenty of that so-called "precious time".
Finally, you make your bomb run which actually is not more than a few minutes. You know that the sight gives the correct results because you checked it yourself. Your racks will release at the correct instant because you checked these too. You have no doubt that you will hit the correct target and the assigned AP because you have spent many hours memorizing the target and portions of the surrounding districts from the objective target folder. You have turned at the IP on the correct heading and you have pre-set the wind data because you have checked drift enroute to the target. Yes, bombardier, you have good reason to believe that you have hit your target because you have utilized every known aid to bombing to hit your objective.
You have trained many months but now you will find there was not one repetitious thing you did in training that you did not need from take-off to landing on an operational mission.
Ruppelt's first combat mission was a success, reporting direct hits on the primary target -- Rama VI railroad bridge -- as well as hits on a highway bridge and another railroad bridge, with the thousand-pound bombs falling like rain.
The B-29 in which Ruppelt flew could reach a speed of more than 350 miles per hour, but its normal cruising speed was 220 -- meaning 10 or more hours in the air for Ruppelt's first mission, and hours more spent in pre-mission briefing and post-mission debriefing. Whatever celebration of the first combat mission of Ed Ruppelt -- likely both exhausted and exhilarated -- may have taken place can only be surmised, but the Pictorial History of the 444th Bombardment Group includes a fair number of pictures of airmen gathered around tables in very good humor, and with beverages in hand.
Four days later, on December 18, 1944, Ruppelt's second mission was in one of three formations on a bombing run over Hankow, China (a total of 1331 air miles) -- this time dropping incendiaries on warehouse and dock facilities, followed three days later by a December 21, 1944, raid on a Japanese airplane factory at Mukden, Manchuria (2710 air miles). The attack on Mukden met fierce resistance by Japanese fighter aircraft. What this meant for Ruppelt in the bombardier seat in the nose of the plane can only be imagined, but a December, 1944, report of the 793rd Bombardment Squadron made special note...
The Japanese pilots have discovered the safest pass on B-29s is a frontal attack. The high rate of closure, while the larger planes are on a bomb run, gives the smaller attacking fighter plane much advantage.
Christmas, 1944, brought a lull in the bombing campaign. It had been 24 months since the 19-year old mechanical engineering student had enlisted, and 22 months since he had left Grundy Center on his journey into the bombardier's seat of a B-29 Superfortress in Dudhkundi, India, 6900 air miles from the ones he loved. Playing in repeats on the Armed Forces Radio Network at the time was a rebroadcast of a December 7, 1944, Kraft Music Hall with Bing Crosby and the Henderson Choir performing I'll Be Home for Christmas...
I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
Over the coming months -- through March, 1949 -- Ruppelt would fly out of Dudhkundi on four missions against Japanese installations in Singapore, one in Rangoon, Burma and one in Kuala Lumpur (a total of 20,126 air miles viewed from his seat in the nose of a B-29).
By May, 1944, Ruppelt's unit was based in Tinian, in the Northern Mariana Islands -- 1285 air miles from Tokyo and well within striking range of a B-29. Between May and August, Ruppelt would fly 18 missions against Imperial Japan, consisting of one against Tokuyama, two against Nagoya, one against Yokohama, four against Osaka, one against Omuta, one against Hemiji, one against Kagahimahara, one against Kure, one against Chiba, one against Fukui, one against Hachioji, one against Imbari, one against Yawata, and a final one against Hikari Naval Base in Yamaguchi -- adding 50,335 air miles to Ruppelt's air combat total.
And as told in the September 11, 1945, edition of the Waterloo, Iowa, Daily Courier, Ruppelt's final mission was also the apex of his career as a B-29 bombardier...
Grundy Bombardier Has Rousing Finish
(Courier Special Service)
Fifty-eighth Bombardment Wing, Tinian -- Four Superfortress bombardiers of the crack 444th bombardment group on Tinian waited until the last hours of the war to turn in one of the greatest bombing feats in air force history. The time was midday, Aug. 11, the target was the Hikari naval arsenal at Tokuyama, the results -- the arsenal was destroyed. Among the four marksmen who ended their combat tour in a rousing finish was First Lt. Edward J. Ruppelt of Grundy Center, Ia.
An incredible figure of 95.5 per cent of bombs dropped by the 444th's lead formation hit within 1,000 feet of the aiming point. The next three formations had better than a 50 per cent score despite intense smoke and moderate enemy ack-ack.
Lieutenant Ruppelt had a bombing reputation to uphold as former bombardier of this oldest B-29 bombardment group registered impressive marks in operations from China and India against precision targets the length and breadth of Japan's once-proud empire.
The Iowan and his crew arrived in India last December. He received his big chance in precision bombing when his crew was named as formation leaders on his 29th and the last B-29 strike against the enemy on Aug. 14.
"Everything was set up perfectly," spoke Lieutenant Ruppelt, "the bomb-run was the best I ever saw -- good check points and above all we found the target open with the weather clear as a bell. It was a good mission to end everything and we're all proud of the record achieved."
This Superfort veteran has been awarded the Air Medal and three clusters to the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and is now in for a cluster to the DFC as a result of his superb bombing at Tokuyama.
Lieutenant Ruppelt, whose wife, Elizabeth Anne, is now making her home in Grundy Center, expects to be home soon and will resume his studies at Iowa state college.
The war was finally over, and Ruppelt had ended it on a high note. His role as lead bombardier signaled the regard and respect with which his talents were held by his ranking superiors. To cap it all off, it was while still in flight during his return from that mission that he learned Japan had finally surrendered.
But the smiles and good cheer of men returning in victory from war is almost always partly a mask. Ruppelt had spent 244 days -- from his first mission on December 14, 1944 through his last on August 14, 1945 -- not knowing if each day or each night might be his last. Forty-eight B-29s had taken part in Ruppelt's first mission over Bangkok -- from which four B-29s and their crews never returned. On his first mission following Christmas, targeting Singapore, the crews of another two B-29s were lost. And not all who did make it back to base over the coming months would come back whole, with some unlimbed and others permanently disfigured or paralyzed. And so it went day by day through the end of the war, as bunks which had just that morning held a waking airman went empty and unassigned that same night.
According to his cousin Jean, Ruppelt wrote home to his family almost every day during that time. Although those letters were and are rightfully private, it is unlikely he ever mentioned the stress, strains and fears of combat. It is known that he asked to be sent packets of blue morning glory seeds to plant on Tinian Island, and that upon hearing of his aunt's comment that she knew little about Japan other than that they drank tea, he wrote back, "Tell Auntie, I'm afraid we have interrupted a slew of tea parties by now." But what thoughts he was keeping closely held, only he himself knew.
The boy with hand-built model planes crowding the shelves and hanging from invisible threads in his room was now but a memory, his imaginary aerial adventures now the exclusive domain of new generations of children with their minds aloft in phantasmagoric flight.
Likewise the callow youth who took his first tentative steps into college, eager and enthusiastic, with any number of possible futures ahead, would have to leave that irreplaceable time of life to others -- three years earlier he had narrowed his choices down to but one: duty to his country above all.
First Lieutenant Edward James Ruppelt, who had left his loved ones behind in 1942 while still a teenager, was now returning home a man.
Above: Freshman class of 1948 at Iowa State College.
AFTER RETURNING HOME to Iowa in 1946, Ruppelt and his wife Liz enrolled once more at Iowa State College. His major was now aeronautical engineering, with his educational expenses taken care of by way of the G.I. Bill. Along the way he would get work at a photography shop and sometimes try to sell his photographs to newspapers. In the summers Ed and Liz Ruppelt would manage a general store in Yellowstone National Park. With the completion of his degree work in 1950 he had every right to expect that his life would now follow a more traditional course. But that was not to be.
On June 25, 1950, 75,000 soldiers from communist North Korea poured across the 38th parallel, invading the territory of democratic South Korea. Soon after, American military forces became involved in what was reality a new war, but politically labeled a "police action". In the United States, military reservists were called back to duty, among them Ed Ruppelt.
In his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt picks up the story from there...
During the second world war I had been a B-29 bombardier and radar operator. I went to India, China, and later to the Pacific, with the original B-29 wing. I flew two DCF's, and some Air Medals' worth of missions, got out of the Air Force after the war, and went back to college. To keep my reserve status while I was in school, I flew as a navigator in an Air Force Reserve Troop Carrier Wing.
Not long after I received my degree in aeronautical engineering, the Korean War started, and I went back on active duty. I was assigned to the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio. ATIC is responsible for keeping track of all foreign aircraft and guided missiles...
I had been at ATIC only eight and a half hours when I first heard the words "flying saucer" officially used. I had never paid a great deal of attention to flying saucer reports but I had read a few, especially those that had been made by pilots. I'd managed to collect some 2,000 hours of flying time and had seen many odd things in the air, but I'd always been able to figure out what they were in a few seconds. I was convinced that if a pilot, or any crew member of an airplane, said that he'd seen something that he couldn't identify he meant it -- it wasn't a hallucination. But I wasn't convinced that flying saucers were spaceships.
My interest in UFO's picked up in a hurry when I learned that ATIC was the government agency that was responsible for the UFO project. And I was really impressed when I found out that the person who sat three desks down and one over from mine was in charge of the whole UFO show. So when I came to work on my second morning at ATIC and heard the words "flying saucer report" being talked about and saw a group of people standing around the chief of the UFO project's desk I about sprung an eardrum listening to what they had to say. It seemed to be a big deal, except that most of them were laughing. It must be a report of hoax or hallucination, I remember thinking to myself, but I listened as one of the group told the others about the report.
The night before a Mid Continent Airlines DC-3 was taxiing out to take off from the airport at Sioux City, Iowa, when the airport control tower operators noticed a bright bluish white light in the west. The tower operators, thinking that it was another airplane, called the pilot of the DC-3 and told him to be careful since there was another airplane approaching the field. As the DC-3 lined up to take off, both the pilots of the airliner and the tower operators saw the light moving in, but since it was still some distance away the DC-3 was given permission to take off. As it rolled down the runway getting up speed, both the pilot and the copilot were busy, so they didn't see the light approaching. But the tower operators did, and as soon as the DC-3 was airborne, they called and told the pilot to be careful. The copilot said that he saw the light and was watching it. Just then the tower got a call from another airplane that was requesting landing instructions and the operators looked away from the light.
In the DC-3 the pilot and copilot had also looked away from the light for a few seconds. When they looked back, the bluish white light had apparently closed in because it was much brighter and it was dead ahead. In a split second it closed in and flashed by their right wing, so close that both pilots thought that they would collide with it. When it passed the DC-3, the pilots saw more than a light -- they saw a huge object that looked like the "fuselage of a B-29."
When the copilot had recovered he looked out his side window to see if he could see the UFO and there it was, flying formation with them. He yelled at the pilot, who leaned over and looked just in time to see the UFO disappear.
The second look confirmed the Mid Continent crew's first impression -- the object looked like a B-29 without wings. They saw nothing more, only a big "shadowy shape" and the bluish-white light -- no windows, no exhaust.
The tower had missed the incident because they were landing the other airplane and the pilot and the copilot didn't have time to call them and tell them about what was going on. All the tower operators could say was that seconds after the UFO had disappeared the light that they had seen was gone.
When the airliner landed in Omaha, the crew filed a report that was forwarded to the Air Force. But this wasn't the only report that was filed; a full colonel from military intelligence had been a passenger on the DC-3. He'd seen the UFO too, and he was mighty impressed.
I thought that this was an interesting report and I wondered what the official reaction would be. The official reaction was a great big, deep belly laugh.
This puzzled me because I'd read that the Air Force was seriously investigating all UFO reports.
I continued to eavesdrop on the discussions about the report all day since the UFO expert was about to "investigate" the incident. He sent out a wire to Flight Service and found that there was a B-36 somewhere in the area of Sioux City at the time of the sighting, and from what I could gather he was trying to blame the sighting on the B-36. When Washington called to get the results of the analysis of the sighting, they must have gotten the B-36 treatment because the case was closed.
I'd only been at ATIC two days and I certainly didn't class myself as an intelligence expert, but it didn't take an expert to see that a B-36, even one piloted by an experienced idiot, could not do what the UFO had done -- buzz a DC-3 that was in an airport traffic pattern...
I didn't hear anything about UFO's, or flying saucers, as they were then known, for several weeks but I kept them in mind and one day I asked one of the old hands at ATIC about them -- specifically I wanted to know about the Sioux City Incident. Why had it been sloughed off so lightly? His answer was typical of the official policy at that time. "One of these days all of these crazy pilots will kill themselves, the crazy people on the ground will be locked up, and there won't be any more flying saucer reports."
But after I knew the people at ATIC a little better, I found that being anti saucer wasn't a unanimous feeling. Some of the intelligence officers took the UFO reports seriously. One man, who had been on Project Sign since it was organized back in 1947, was convinced that the UFO's were interplanetary spaceships. He had questioned the people in the control tower at Godman AFB when Captain Mantell was killed chasing the UFO, and he had spent hours talking to the crew of the DC-3 that was buzzed near Montgomery, Alabama, by a "cigar shaped UFO that spouted blue flame." In essence, he knew UFO history from A to Z because he had "been there."
I think that it was this controversial thinking that first aroused my interest in the subject of UFO's and led me to try to sound out a few more people.
The one thing that stood out to me, being unindoctrinated in the ways of UFO lore, was the schizophrenic approach so many people at ATIC took. On the surface they sided with the belly laughers on any saucer issue, but if you were alone with them and started to ridicule the subject, they defended it or at least took an active interest. I learned this one day after I'd been at ATIC about a month.
A belated UFO report had come in from Africa. One of my friends was reading it, so I asked him if I could take a look at it when he had finished. In a few minutes he handed it to me.
When I finished with the report I tossed it back on my friend's desk, with some comment about the whole world's being nuts. I got a reaction I didn't expect; he wasn't so sure the whole world was nuts -- maybe the nuts were at ATIC. "What's the deal?" I asked him. "Have they really thoroughly checked out every report and found that there's nothing to any of them?"
He told me that he didn't think so, he'd been at ATIC a long time. He hadn't ever worked on the UFO project, but he had seen many of their reports and knew what they were doing. He just plain didn't buy a lot of their explanations. "And I'm not the only one who thinks this," he added.
"Then why all of the big show of power against the UFO reports?" I remember asking him.
"The powers-that-be are anti flying saucer," he answered about half bitterly, "and to stay in favor it behooves one to follow suit."
As of February 1951 this was the UFO project.
The words "flying saucer" didn't come up again for a month or two. I'd forgotten all about the two words and was deeply engrossed in making an analysis of the performance of the Mig-15. The Mig had just begun to show up in Korea, and finding out more about it was a hot project.
Then the words "flying saucer" drifted across the room once more. But this time instead of belly laughter there was a note of hysteria.
It seems that a writer from Life magazine was doing some research on UFO's and rumor had it that Life was thinking about doing a feature article. The writer had gone to the Office of Public Information in the Pentagon and had inquired about the current status of Project Grudge. To accommodate the writer, the OPI had sent a wire out to ATIC: What is the status of Project Grudge?
Project Grudge was the code name for the second official Air Force investigation into flying saucer reports. It had been set up to replace Project Sign, the first Air Force investigation, which had taken a very serious approach to reports -- to the point it at one time issued an "Estimate of the Situation" embracing an interplanetary explanation. Grudge embodied an opposite approach, ridiculing and denying any report which came its way both to the public and to superiors in Washington...
Back went a snappy reply: Everything is under control; each new report is being thoroughly analyzed by our experts; our vast files of reports are in tiptop shape; and in general things are hunky-dunky. All UFO reports are hoaxes, hallucinations, and the misidentification of known objects.
Another wire from Washington: Fine, Mr. Bob Ginna of Life is leaving for Dayton. He wants to check some reports.
Bedlam in the raw.
Other magazines had printed UFO stories, and other reporters had visited ATIC, but they had always stayed in the offices of the top brass. For some reason the name Life, the prospects of a feature story, and the feeling that this Bob Ginna was going to ask questions caused sweat to flow at ATIC.
Ginna arrived and the ATIC UFO "expert" talked to him. Ginna later told me about the meeting. He had a long list of questions about reports that had been made over the past four years and every time he asked a question, the "expert" would go tearing out of the room to try to find the file that had the answer. I remember that day people spent a lot of time ripping open bundles of files and pawing through them like a bunch of gophers. Many times, "I'm sorry, that's classified," got ATIC out of a tight spot.
Ginna, I can assure you, was not at all impressed by the "efficiently operating UFO project." People weren't buying the hoax, hallucination, and misidentification stories quite as readily as the Air Force believed.
Where it started or who started it I don't know, but about two months after the visit from Life's representative the official interest in UFO's began to pick up. Lieutenant Jerry Cummings, who had recently been recalled to active duty, took over the project.
Lieutenant Cummings is the type of person who when given a job to do does it. In a few weeks the operation of the UFO project had improved considerably. But the project was still operating under political, economic, and manpower difficulties. Cummings' desk was right across from mine, so I began to get a UFO indoctrination via bull sessions. Whenever Jerry found a good report in the pile -- and all he had to start with was a pile of papers and files -- he'd toss it over for me to read.
Some of the reports were unimpressive, I remember. But a few were just the opposite. Two that I remember Jerry's showing me made me wonder how the UFO's could be sloughed off so lightly. The two reports involved movies taken by Air Force technicians at White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.
The guided missile test range at White Sands is fully instrumented to track high, fast-moving objects -- the guided missiles. Located over an area of many square miles there are camera stations equipped with cinetheodolite cameras and linked together by a telephone system.
On April 27, 1950, a guided missile had been fired, and as it roared up into the stratosphere and fell back to earth, the camera crews had recorded its flight. All the crews had started to unload their cameras when one of them spotted an object streaking across the sky. By April 1950 every person at White Sands was UFO conscious, so one member of the camera crew grabbed a telephone headset, alerted the other crews, and told them to get pictures. Unfortunately only one camera had film in it, the rest had already been unloaded, and before they could reload, the UFO was gone. The photos from the one station showed only a smudgy dark object. About all the film proved was that something was in the air and whatever it was, it was moving.
Alerted by this first chance to get a UFO to "run a measured course," the camera crews agreed to keep a sharper lookout. They also got the official O.K. to "shoot" a UFO if one appeared.
Almost exactly a month later another UFO did appear, or at least at the time the camera crews thought that it was a UFO. This time the crews were ready -- when the call went out over the telephone net that a UFO had been spotted, all of the crews scanned the sky. Two of the crews saw it and shot several feet of film as the shiny, bright object streaked across the sky.
As soon as the missile tests were completed, the camera crews rushed their film to the processing lab and then took it to the Data Reduction Group. But once again the UFO had eluded man because there were apparently two or more UFO's in the sky and each camera station had photographed a separate one. The data were no good for triangulation...
One day Lieutenant Cummings came over to my desk and dropped a stack of reports in front of me. "All radar reports," he said, "and I'm getting more and more of them every day."...
All during the early summer of 1951 Lieutenant Cummings "fought the syndicate" trying to make the UFO respectable. All the time I was continuing to get my indoctrination. Then one day with the speed of a shotgun wedding, the long overdue respectability arrived. The date was September 12, 1951, and the exact time was 3:04 P.M.
On this date and time a teletype machine at Wright-Patterson AFB began to chatter out a message. Thirty-six inches of paper rolled out of the machine before the operator ripped off the copy, stamped it Operational Immediate, and gave it to a special messenger to deliver to ATIC. Lieutenant Cummings got the message. The report was from the Army Signal Corps radar center at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and it was red-hot.
The incident had started two days before, on September 10, at 11:10 A.M., when a student operator was giving a demonstration to a group of visiting brass at the radar school. He demonstrated the set under manual operation for a while, picking up local air traffic, then he announced that he would demonstrate automatic tracking, in which the set is put on a target and follows it without help from the operator. The set could track objects flying at jet speeds.
The operator spotted an object about 12,000 yards southeast of the station, flying low toward the north. He tried to switch the set to automatic tracking. He failed, tried again, failed again. He turned to his audience of VIPs, embarrassed.
"It's going too fast for the set," he said. 'That means it's going faster than a jet!"
A lot of very important eyebrows lifted. What flies faster than a jet?
The object was in range for three minutes and the operator kept trying, without success, to get into automatic track. The target finally went off the scope, leaving the red-faced operator talking to himself.
The radar technicians at Fort Monmouth had checked the weather -- there wasn't the slightest indication of an inversion layer.
Twenty-five minutes later the pilot of a T-33 jet trainer, carrying an Air Force major as passenger and flying 20,000 feet over Point Pleasant, New Jersey, spotted a dull silver, disk like object far below him. He described it as 30 to 50 feet in diameter and as descending toward Sandy Hook from an altitude of a mile or so. He banked the T-33 over and started down after it. As he shot down, he reported, the object stopped its descent, hovered, then sped south, made a 120 degree turn, and vanished out to sea.
The Fort Monmouth Incident then switched back to the radar group. At 3:15 P.M. they got an excited, almost frantic call from headquarters to pick up a target high and to the north -- which was where the first "faster-than-a-jet" object had vanished -- and to pick it up in a hurry. They got a fix on it and reported that it was traveling slowly at 93,000 feet. They also could see it visually as a silver speck.
What flies 18 miles above the earth?
The next morning two radar sets picked up another target that couldn't be tracked automatically. It would climb, level off, climb again, go into a dive. When it climbed it went almost straight up.
The two-day sensation ended that afternoon when the radar tracked another unidentified slow moving object and tracked it for several minutes.
A copy of the message had also gone to Washington. Before Jerry could digest the thirty-six inches of facts, ATIC's new chief, Colonel Frank Dunn, got a phone call. It came from the office of the Director of Intelligence of the Air Force, Major General (now Lieutenant General) C.P. Cabell. General Cabell wanted somebody from ATIC to get to New Jersey -- fast -- and find out what was going on. As soon as the reports had been thoroughly investigated, the general said that he wanted a complete personal report. Nothing expedites like a telephone call from a general officer, so in a matter of hours Lieutenant Cummings and Lieutenant Colonel N.R. Rosengarten were on an airliner, New Jersey bound.
The two officers worked around the clock interrogating the radar operators, their instructors, and the technicians at Fort Monmouth. The pilot who had chased the UFO in the T-33 trainer and his passenger were flown to New York, and they talked to Cummings and Rosengarten. All other radar stations in the area were checked, but their radars hadn't picked up anything unusual.
At about 4:00 A.M. the second morning after they had arrived, the investigation was completed, Cummings later told. He and Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten couldn't get an airliner out of New York in time to get them to the Pentagon by 10:00 A.M., the time that had been set up for their report, so they chartered an airplane and flew to the capital to brief the general.
General Cabell presided over the meeting, and it was attended by his entire staff plus Lieutenant Cummings, Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten, and a special representative from Republic Aircraft Corporation. The man from Republic supposedly represented a group of top U.S. industrialists and scientists who thought that there should be a lot more sensible answers coming from the Air Force regarding the UFO's. The man was at the meeting at the personal request of a general officer.
Every word of the two-hour meeting was recorded on a wire recorder. The recording was so hot that it was later destroyed, but not before I had heard it several times. I can't tell everything that was said but, to be conservative, it didn't exactly follow the tone of the official Air Force releases -- many of the people present at the meeting weren't as convinced that the "hoax, hallucination, and misidentification" answer was quite as positive as the Grudge Report and subsequent press releases made out.
Toward the end of the two-hour conference a general asked Lieutenant Cummings to review the activity of the UFO investigation for the past year and a half. Maybe it was just a lack of sleep, or maybe it was just Cummings, but the general got the straight answer -- for all practical purposes the project was dead. Then Cummings proceeded to elaborate on the details, the attitude at ATIC, the opposition to his reorganizing the project, and the methods of processing reports. Lieutenant Cummings didn't miss a point. He later told me that all of the generals and about three fourths of the full colonels present at the meeting turned the shade of purple normally associated with rage while a sort of sickly grin graced the faces of the remaining few. Then one of the generals on the purple-faced team glared at the sickly grin team and cut loose.
The first thing the general wanted to know was, "Who in hell has been giving me these reports that every decent flying saucer sighting is being investigated?"
Then others picked up the questioning.
"What happened to those two reports that General sent in from Saudi Arabia? He saw those two flying saucers himself."
"And who released this big report, anyway?" another person added, picking up a copy of the Grudge Report and slamming it back down on the table.
Lieutenant Cummings and Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten came back to ATIC with orders to set up a new project and report back to General Cabell when it was ready to go. But Cummings didn't get a chance to do much work on the new revitalized Project Grudge -- it was to keep the old name -- because in a few days he was a civilian. He'd been released from active duty because he was needed back at Cal Tech, where he'd been working on an important government project before his recall to active duty.
The day after Cummings got his separation orders, Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten called me into his office. The colonel was chief of the Aircraft and Missiles branch and one of his many responsibilities was Project Grudge. He said that he knew that I was busy as group leader of my regular group but, if he gave me enough people, could I take Project Grudge? All he wanted me to do was to get it straightened out and operating; then I could go back to trying to outguess the Russians. He threw in a few comments about the good job I'd done straightening out other foul-up projects. Good old "Rosy." With my ego sufficiently inflated, I said yes.
Although in his book Ruppelt treated his appointment to head the effort lightly, in fact the revelations of Lt. Cummings had caused urgent and serious concern in the top ranks of the Air Force. On August 29, 1949 the Soviet Union -- at the time widely regarded as America's arch enemy -- had exploded its first atomic bomb. Combined with the right delivery system, the Soviets could devastate the nation. Yet the pivotal meeting with Lt. Cummings laid bare the fact that Grudge had treated reports of unknown aerial intruders over the United States as a public relations problem.
This behind-the-scenes concern was vividly expressed by General William M. Garland to his direct superior General John A. Samford -- Air Force Director of Intelligence -- in a January 3, 1952 memo...
SUBJECT: (SECRET) Contemplated Action to Determine the Nature and Origin of the Phenomena Connected with the Reports of Unusual Flying Objects
1. The continued reports of unusual flying objects requires positive action to determine the nature and origin of this phenomena. The action taken thus far has been designed to track down and evaluate reports from casual observers throughout the country. Thus far, this action has produced results of doubtful value and the inconsistencies inherent in the nature of the reports has given neither positive nor negative proof of the claims.
2. It is logical to relate the reported sighting to the known development of aircraft, jet propulsion, rockets and range extension capabilities in Germany and the U.S.S.R. In this connection, it is to be noted that certain developments by the Germans, particularly the Horton wing, jet propulsion, and refueling, combined with their extensive employment of V-1 and V-2 weapons during World War II, lend credence to the possibility that the flying objects may be of German or Russian origin. The developments mentioned above were completed and operational between 1941 and 1944 and subsequently fell into the hands of the Soviets at the end of the war. There is evidence that the Germans were working on these projects as far back as 1931 to 1938. Therefore, it may be assumed that the Germans had at least a 7 to 10 year lead over the United States in the development of rockets, jet engines, and aircraft of the Horton-wing design. The Air Corps developed refueling experimentally as early as 1928, but did not develop operational capability until 1948.
3. In view of the above facts and the persistent reports of unusual flying objects over parts of the United States, particularly the east and west coast and in the vicinity of atomic energy production and testing facilities, it is apparent that positive action must be taken to determine the nature of the objects and, if possible, their origin. Since it is known fact that the Soviets did not detonate an atomic bomb prior to 1949, it is believed possible that the Soviets may have developed the German aircraft designs at an accelerated rate in order to have a suitable carrier for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the Soviets may have a carrier without the weapons required while we have relatively superior weapons with relatively inferior carriers available. If the Soviets should get the carrier and the weapon, combined with adequate defensive aircraft, they might surpass us technologically for a sufficient period of time to permit them to execute a decisive air campaign against the United States and her allies. The basic philosophy of the Soviets has been to surpass the western powers technologically and the Germans have given them the opportunity.
4. In view of the facts outlined above, it is considered mandatory that the Air Force take positive action at once to definitely determine the nature and, if possible, the origin of the reported unusual flying objects. The following action is now contemplated:
a. to require ATIC to provide at least three teams to be matched up with an equal number of teams from ADC for the purpose of taking radar scope photographs and visual photographs of the phenomena;
b. to select sites for these teams, based on the concentrations of already reported sightings over the United States; (these areas are generally, the Seattle area, the Albuquerque area and the New York-Philadelphia area) and
c. to take the initial steps in this project during early January 1952.
Although written months after Ruppelt's appointment, the memo reflected concerns stretching back to the meeting with Lt. Cummings which had resulted in orders to resuscitate the moribund Project Grudge.
That the powers-that-be turned to Edward J. Ruppelt -- aeronautical engineer in the foreign technology department of the Air Technical Intelligence Center, already leading a team in charge of analyzing the MiG-15 Soviet warbird -- to head the effort was more than a decision casually taken.
In fact -- as he would soon prodigiously demonstrate to one and all -- in Lt. Edward J. Ruppelt they had found the perfect man for the job.
Above: Illustration for July, 1952, article in Look magazine. The caption reads, "This map scared the Pentagon. It pinpoints unexplained 'flying saucer' sightings across the nation with concentrations near vital defense installations."
ALMOST IMMEDIATELY after Ruppelt was made head of the effort, monthly "status reports" began being drafted detailing the project's progress. The first was dated "30 November 1951"...
Much of the work done on Project Grudge has been devoted to the reorganization of the project as given in the Project Initiation Form A-3, dated 22 October 1951.
The old Project Grudge and Project Sign files have been reviewed and sorted. Cross-indexing and tabulation of the old files has been slow due to a lack of clerical help, but it is hoped that this situation will be alleviated in the near future. It is contemplated that all of the sightings of unconventional flying objects will soon be cross-indexed according to size, color, location, etc., so that as much statistical data as possible will be available. It is believed that it may be possible to determine several generic characteristics of the sightings from the mass of data that is on file at ATIC.
Contacts have been established with all agencies that may be able to assist in Project Grudge such as Air Weather Service, Flight Service, high altitude balloon projects, O.S.I., etc. There is still some doubt as to the channels that should be used in contacting some agencies but these will be clarified in the near future.
Two major difficulties have arisen and they are (1) the time element and (2) obtaining transportation. In regard to the time element, it has been found that in many instances one or two months will elapse before ATIC receives word on an incident. It is very possible that many incidents are never reported. As far as can be determined, this is due to two main reasons:
a. Letters pertaining to the procedures and responsibilities in reporting incidents were dated September 1950. Since that time there has been an influx of new and recalled officers and changes in personnel; consequently, a great number of people are not aware of the requirements of Project Grudge. Incidents that are several months old are finally received at ATIC after having forwarded through several commands.
b. It is believed that the general feeling in some instances is that the Air Force is not too interested in this project and reporting such incidents is unimportant. It is the opinion of ATIC that regardless of personal beliefs as to the origin of the objects, the task of determining, if possible, what these objects are has been assigned, and should be carried out.
It is believed that the revision and re-circulation of the AF letter pertaining to Project Grudge will alleviate the problem of delay in receiving reports. The Collection Division, Directorate of Intelligence, was requested to revise and re-circulate this letter on 25 October 1951.
If, after the above mentioned letter is circulated, the situation does not improve, it may be advisable to circulate another memorandum explaining why the Air Force is interested in this problem and how reports are to be made.
The second major difficulty encountered has been transportation in the locality of the incidents. On many occasions, the interrogation of one source will lead to other sources. All of these leads must be followed to get a complete picture. This necessitates a great deal of travel within a city or even over part of a state. At times government transportation is available but at other times the incidents are not close to military establishments or if they are, all transportation may be in use. Since it is the policy not to reimburse travelers for such taxi fares, this has imposed a great financial burden on the investigator. In regard to the same subject, the time element again enters since there is usually only a limited amount of time that can be spent on an investigation and all the time spent attempting to get transportation or finding the correct bus routes is lost.
Steps have been taken to overcome this second major difficulty by requesting that Headquarters USAF send a wire to the military installation to which a visit will be made requesting that the Commanding Officer give full cooperation to Project Grudge personnel.
Another problem that has not been fully investigated is whether or not wide spread publicity to the project should be given in an attempt to obtain a more complete coverage of incidents. It is believed that more reports would be obtained but the publicity would also produce a mass of "crank" letters that would increase the workload a considerable amount. It has been tentatively decided that the best course of action is to wait and see what improvements are brought about by the revised AF letters being re-circulated by the Collection Division of D/I.
Here then were the first necessary steps identified, to organize the files and revive the reporting process. Also implied as subtext, this was the cleanup necessary after the former approach of Grudge had left files in disarray while proactively discouraging reports from the field.
The introduction was followed by a listing of current sighting reports in tabular form, with some then examined in more detail (as would be true in all the subsequent status reports). But in its conclusion to the first section, that first report of the new Project Grudge would also establish the priority which would forever affect the project's future approach and outcome...
Due to the huge task of investigating all reported incidents, it will be the policy of Project Grudge to concentrate on those incidents that appear to have originated from high grade sources, such as pilots, technically trained people, etc. The only exception to this will be where a number of sightings occur in a certain area at about the same time. All reports, however, will be incorporated in the file for statistical purposes.
The approach then was to be two-fold, with the "best" reports investigated and analyzed, while the majority of reports would be "cross-indexed according to size, color, location, etc." for statistical analysis.
Ironically, one of the "best" reports first chosen was that of the radar-visual reports from Fort Monmouth, New Jersey -- which had ultimately resulted in the changes at Grudge. That analysis, written as "Special Report No. 1" dated 28 December 1951, devoted four pages to analysis with the conclusion...
A. The unidentified aircraft reported by the T-33 pilots was probably a balloon launched by the Evans Signal Laboratory a few minutes before the T-33 arrived in the area.
B. The 1110 EDST radar sighting on 10 September 1951 was not necessarily a very high-speed aircraft. Its speed was judged only by the operator's inability to use aided tracking and this was possibly due to the operator being excited, and not the high speed of the aircraft.
C. The 1515 EDST radar sighting on 10 September 1951 was a weather balloon.
D. The 1050 EDST radar sighting on 11 September 1951 was a weather balloon.
E. The 1330 EDST radar sighting on 11 September 1951 remains unknown but it was very possible that it was due to anomalous propagation and/or the student radar operators' thoughts that there was a great deal of activity of unusual objects in the area.
The next regular monthly status report was dated 31 December 1951...
The majority of the time devoted to Project Grudge during the period covered in this Status Report, 30 November 1951 to 31 December 1951, has been spent in sorting and filing old Project Grudge and Project Sign files. All of the incidents dating back to 1946 that are in ATIC have been sorted and filed. There are approximately 800 on file. Each incident has been put in a separate folder and filed in chronological order.
Summary cards are being made on each incident. These summary cards will include data such as description of the object, course, altitude, speed, maneuvers, etc. These cards will then be cross-indexed in an attempt to obtain characteristics or trends in the sightings. It is contemplated that the cross-indexing will be completed by the middle of February.
B. Missing Reports and Photographs
It is apparent that the details of some of the reports between early 1949 and mid-1951 are missing. An attempt will be made to obtain these reports from other agencies so that ATIC file will be complete. Photographs referred to in some reports are also missing. Although there have not been very many photographs of alleged unusual aerial objects submitted to ATIC, there have been a few and an attempt will be made to obtain prints of these photographs.
C. Map for Plotting Sightings
A large map of the United States is being prepared and is nearly completed. All of the sightings will be plotted on this map in an attempt to establish some pattern in the sightings. A color code will be worked out so that as much information as possible can be graphically illustrated on the map.
D. Delays in Obtaining Information
It will be noted in the list of incidents that is contained in this report that the investigations of sightings reported several months ago are still pending or that some sightings have not been investigated due to the time that has elapsed since the sighting. The investigations being conducted in conjunction with the project are still being hampered by the delays in receiving information.
On 25 October 1951, it was requested that AFOIN-CC-1 letter dated 8 September 1950 subject: "Reporting of Information on Unconventional Aircraft" be revised and recirculated to all AF commands. It is hoped that as soon as this is done the situation will improve.
In addition to delays in receiving additional information, it is believed that many sightings of unidentified objects are not being reported at all. This belief is founded on the fact that ATIC has received newspaper clippings or requests for information on sightings about which there is no information in the records.
Several conferences have been held with members of a prominent research organization to determine whether or not there is enough information available on the unidentified aerial objects to warrant a thorough scientific investigation. These people have inspected the files, discussed the problem, and it is their opinion that there are enough reports that cannot be explained by known objects or phenomena to warrant a detailed investigation.
Several other prominent engineers and scientists have been contacted and their opinions are much the same as those stated above.
Negotiations are underway to obtain the services of consultants in the fields of physics, nuclear physics, astronomy, psychology, etc., to assist in the analysis of the reports. These consultants will also attempt to make a continuing statistical analysis of the reports in an attempt to determine whether or not there is any significant pattern or characteristics in the sightings. In this respect, it is hoped that the project can receive the full cooperation of all commands in promptly reporting all sightings of unidentified aerial objects, so that as many authentic reports as possible will be available for study by statistical analysis.
The "members of a prominent research organization" were representatives from Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio. Created as a result of an endowment bequested by Gordon Battelle in 1923, its initial focus was the development of practical applications of scientific research. With the advent of World War II, its mission expanded greatly and it participated in the famed Manhattan Project to develop the world's first atomic weapon. In his 1956 book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt described the circumstances of Battelle's involvement in his reorganization of Grudge...
It had been obvious right from the start of the reorganization of Project Grudge that there would be questions that no one on my staff was technically competent to answer. To have a fully staffed project, I'd need an astronomer, a physicist, a chemist, a mathematician, a psychologist, and probably a dozen other specialists. It was, of course, impossible to have all of these people on my staff, so I decided to do the next best thing. I would set up a contract with some research organization who already had such people on their staff; then I would call on them whenever their services were needed.
I soon found a place that was interested in such a contract, and the day after Christmas, Colonel S.H. Kirkland, of Colonel Dunn's staff, and I left Dayton for a two-day conference with these people to outline what we wanted. Their organization cannot be identified by name because they are doing other highly secret work for the government. I'll call them Project Bear.
Project Bear is a large, well-known research organization in the Midwest. The several hundred engineers and scientists who make up their staff run from experts on soils to nuclear physicists. They would make these people available to me to assist Project Grudge on any problem that might arise from a UFO report. They did not have a staff astronomer or psychologist, but they agreed to get them for us on a subcontract basis. Besides providing experts in every field of science, they would make two studies for us; a study of how much a person can be expected to see and remember from a UFO sighting, and a statistical study of UFO reports. The end product of the study of the powers of observation of a UFO observer would be an interrogation form.
Ever since the Air Force had been in the UFO business, attempts had been made to construct a form that a person who had seen a UFO could fill out. Many types had been tried but all of them had major disadvantages. Project Bear, working with the psychology department of a university, would study all of the previous questionnaires, along with actual UFO reports, and try to come up with as near a perfect interrogation form as possible. The idea was to make the form simple and yet extract as much and as accurate data as possible from the observer.
The second study that Project Bear would undertake would be a statistical study of all UFO reports. Since 1947 the Air Force had collected about 650 reports, but if our plan to encourage UFO reports worked out the way we expected this number could increase tenfold. To handle this volume of reports, Project Bear said that they would set up a complete UFO file on IBM punch cards. Then if we wanted any bit of information from the files, it would be a matter of punching a few buttons on an IBM card-sorting machine, and the files would be sorted electronically in a few seconds.
Approximately a hundred items pertaining to a UFO report would be put on each card. These items included everything from the time the UFO was seen to its position in the sky and the observer's personality. The items punched on the cards would correspond to the items on the questionnaires that Project Bear was going to develop.
Besides giving us a rapid method of sorting data, this IBM file would give us a modus operandi file. Our MO file would be similar to the MO files used by police departments to file the methods of operations of a criminal. Thus when we received a report we could put the characteristics of the reported UFO on an IBM punch card, put it into the IBM machine, and compare it with the characteristics of other sightings that had known solutions. The answer might be that out of the one hundred items on the card, ninety-five were identical to previous UFO reports that ducks were flying over a city at night reflecting the city's lights.
Unemphasized in Ruppelt's retelling was that the two functions -- design of an interrogation form and a separate statistical analysis -- were in reality two halves of the same whole. The forms were primarily designed to expedite the transfer of data points to the IBM cards. The only narrative was a single page in which a description was asked of the incident. The narrative page was often ignored, and in fact many who would report sightings would receive a polite letter accompanying the form and asking them to fill it out and return it by mail, representing the sum total of "investigation" on the part of the Air Force.
The next status report was dated 31 January 1952. There was not much new to report -- work on the previous files was continuing and the cross-indexing of 3X5 cards was about halfway complete. Some of the missing files had been located and a trip to Washington, D.C., was planned to look for more missing files that might be found at the Air Force Directorate of Intelligence (the "D/I"). But there were some other decisions and observations as well...
C. Map of Sightings
A map has been prepared, showing all of the sightings in the United States. Colored tacks are used to designate sightings by years.
The plot of sightings shows that there is a concentration of sightings in the area of:
1. Dayton, Ohio
2. Columbus, Ohio
3. White Sands, New Mexico
4. Albuquerque, New Mexico
5. Oak Ridge, Tenn.
6. Camp Hood, Texas
No conclusions can be made or other facts about the distribution of the sightings stated until a further study of the distribution of sightings has been made.
D. Directives for Reporting Incidents
The directive which outlines the reporting procedures to be used in this project is AFOIN-C/CC-2 letter dated 19 December 1951, subject: "Reporting Information on Unidentified Flying Objects". This directive is not believed to be adequate to cover all phases of the project and it is being revised. The revision of this directive has been given top priority as it is believed that the project cannot function properly until satisfactory reporting channels are set up.
The consultants that will be obtained to assist in the project have finished their preliminary survey of past work done on the project and will submit their formal proposal during the early part of February. During the past month one of their members accompanied Project Grudge personnel on two interrogations to familiarize them with how reports are investigated.
F. Difficulties in Obtaining Reports
Recently several airline and Air Force pilots have been queried as to their feelings on reporting the sightings of unidentified aerial objects. The queries were predicated by reports that sightings were not being reported due to stigma that has been placed on the project by unfavorable newspaper releases, etc. Only a very few individuals were contacted, however, these people stated that they would be very reluctant to report any type of unidentified object to the Air Force. One pilot summed up the situation by stating, "If a space ship flew wing-tip to wing-tip formation with me, I would not report it." This feeling among people who are in a position to submit good reports is a great handicap to the objective of getting reliable data. The exact nature of some of the objects reported have not been determined, therefore, there is always the possibility that there exists some type of unconventional vehicle possessing extraordinary performance and characteristics. If such a vehicle should appear, its detection would be hampered by the reluctance to report sightings of unusual aerial objects.
A series of briefings of Air Force commanders is being tentatively planned to explain the functions and findings of this project in an attempt to break down the adverse feelings on reporting that are held by many people.
The reference to the "stigma that has been placed on the project by unfavorable newspaper releases, etc." would have been crystal clear in its meaning to recipients of the report. Part of the anti-saucer public relations offensive by Project Grudge had included a scathing two-part article in spring, 1949, as Ruppelt relates in his 1956 book...
For many months reporters and writers had been trying to reach behind the security wall and get the UFO story from the horse's mouth, but no luck. Some of them were still trying but they were having no success because they were making the mistake of letting it slip that they didn't believe that airline pilots, military pilots, scientists, and just all around solid citizens were having "hallucinations," perpetrating "hoaxes," or being deceived by the "misidentification of common objects." The people of Project Grudge weren't looking for this type of writer, they wanted a writer who would listen to them and write their story. As a public relations officer later told me, "We had a devil of a time. All of the writers who were after saucer stories had made their own investigations of sightings and we couldn't convince them they were wrong."
Before long, however, the right man came along. He was Sidney Shallet [sic throughout, should be Shalett], a writer for The Saturday Evening Post. He seemed to have the prerequisites that were desired, so his visit to ATIC was cleared through the Pentagon. Harry Haberer, a crack Air Force public relations man, was assigned the job of seeing that Shallet got his story. I have heard many times, from both military personnel and civilians, that the Air Force told Shallet exactly what to say in his article -- play down the UFO's -- don't write anything that even hints that there might be something foreign in our skies. I don't believe that this is the case. I think that he just wrote the UFO story as it was told to him, told to him by Project Grudge.
Shallet's article, which appeared in two parts in the April 30 and May 7, 1949, issues of The Saturday Evening Post, is important in the history of the UFO and in understanding the UFO problem because it had considerable effect on public opinion. Many people had, with varying degrees of interest, been wondering about the UFO's for over a year and a half. Very few had any definite opinions one way or the other. The feeling seemed to be that the Air Force is working on the problem and when they get the answer we'll know. There had been a few brief, ambiguous press releases from the Air Force but these meant nothing. Consequently when Shallet's article appeared in the Post it was widely read. It contained facts, and the facts had come from Air Force Intelligence. This was the Air Force officially reporting on UFO's for the first time.
The article was typical of the many flying saucer stories that were to follow in the later years of UFO history, all written from material obtained from the Air Force. Shallet's article casually admitted that a few UFO sightings couldn't be explained, but the reader didn't have much chance to think about this fact because 99 per cent of the story was devoted to the anti-saucer side of the problem. It was the typical negative approach. I know that the negative approach is typical of the way that material is handed out by the Air Force because I was continually being told to "tell them about the sighting reports we've solved -- don't mention the unknowns." I was never ordered to tell this, but it was a strong suggestion and in the military when higher headquarters suggests, you do.
Shallet's article started out by psychologically conditioning the reader by using such phrases as "the great flying saucer scare," "rich, full-blown screwiness," "fearsome freaks," and so forth. By the time the reader gets to the meat of the article he feels like a rich, full-blown jerk for ever even thinking about UFO's.
He pointed out how the "furor" about UFO reports got so great that the Air Force was "forced" to investigate the reports reluctantly. He didn't mention that two months after the first UFO report ATIC had asked for Project Sign since they believed that UFO's did exist. Nor did it mention the once Top Secret Estimate of the Situation that also concluded that UFO's were real. In no way did the article reflect the excitement and anxiety of the age of Project Sign when secret conferences preceded and followed every trip to investigate a UFO report. This was the Air Force being "forced" into reluctantly investigating the UFO reports.
Laced through the story were the details of several UFO sightings; some new and some old, as far as the public was concerned. The original UFO report by Kenneth Arnold couldn't be explained. Arnold, however, had sold his story to Fate magazine and in the same issue of Fate were stories with such titles as "Behind the Etheric Veil" and "Invisible Beings Walk the Earth," suggesting that Arnold's story might fall into the same category. The sightings where the Air Force had the answer had detailed explanations. The ones that were unknowns were mentioned, but only in passing.
Many famous names were quoted. The late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Chief of Staff of the Air Force, had seen a flying saucer but it was just a reflection on the windshield of his B-17. General Lauris Norstad's UFO was a reflection of a star on a cloud, and General Curtis E. Le May found out that one out of six UFO's was a balloon; Colonel McCoy, then chief of ATIC, had seen lots of UFO's. All were reflections from distant airplanes. In other words, nobody who is anybody in the Air Force believes in flying saucers.
Figures in the top echelons of the military had spoken.
The implication was plain for any airline or Air Force pilot, as well as for other members of the military and general public -- submitting a sighting report to the U.S. Air Force ran a real risk to reputation and career. As if not enough in itself, the screws were tightened in a January, 1951, article by Bob Considine in Cosmopolitan magazine -- again shepherded by Project Grudge -- entitled "The Disgraceful Flying Saucer Hoax". While Considine used terms for witnesses such as "screwballs", the most condescending characterization came from Col. Harold Watson, head of ATIC with responsibility over Project Grudge, in a direct quote...
"At the end of nearly every report tracked down, stands a crackpot, a religious crank, a publicity hound, or a malicious practical joker."
These were the seeds of distrust sown by the previous actions of the Air Force, now being reaped by Ruppelt in his effort to re-open reporting channels. Now with General Garland's renewed concern about saucer reports masking potential Soviet delivery vehicles for an atomic attack, Ruppelt's subtext was clear when he reported that "there is always the possibility that there exists some type of unconventional vehicle possessing extraordinary performance and characteristics. If such a vehicle should appear, its detection would be hampered by the reluctance to report sightings of unusual aerial objects."
The status report of 31 January 1952 also contained two more points of interest...
G. Radar Search
In compliance with suggests [sic] of the Directorate of Intelligence, a preliminary conference has been held on the possibility of using electronic means to detect and obtain data on the unidentified objects that are being reported. Radar would be used in conjunction with photographic equipment to accomplish this. In the past there have been unexplained radar contacts but whether or not these were due to weather phenomena, malfunction of the sets or actual targets has not been determined.
Further conferences will be held on this matter. To date, nothing definite has been decided.
H. Briefing of General Garland
On 29 January 1952, Brig Gen W.M. Garland, Assistant for Production, Director of Intelligence, Hq USAF, and members of his staff were briefed as to the status of the project.
This was the first hint that the Air Force was considering a technological approach -- using a combination radar-photo "trap" (not unlike modern red-light camera traps) to gain data when unknown aerial objects zipped by.
Most striking of all, barely three months into the job, 1st Lieutenant Ruppelt was now personally briefing those at the higher echelons of the Air Force. In addition, the status reports -- which had started as internal to Air Force intelligence at Wright Field and at the Pentagon -- were now being distributed to the "Commanding General" at each of the Strategic Air Command (at Offutt AFB, Omaha, Nebraska), the Continental Air Command (at Mitchel AFB, New York), the Air Defense Command (at Ent AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado), the Tactical Air Command (at Langley AFB, Virginia), and the Air Training Command (at Scott AFB, Illinois). Addressing such reports to Commanding Generals of any command was protocol, and they may have instead gone to heads of various divisions under their command -- but those heads would also responsible for keeping their generals abreast of events as well as informing other personnel within each command to keep them in the loop. But more important than the method was the result -- word was now going out to commands responsible for fighting an air war that Washington was taking the matter of "flying saucer" reports seriously once more.
The next project status report, dated 29 February 1952, showed progress on the work of turning sighting reports into statistical data...
All of the material in ATIC that relates to sightings of unidentified aerial objects has now been filed and cross-indexed. Over 600 reports have been cross-indexed under the main divisions of:
1. Time of Sighting
5. Number of Objects Seen
9. Occupation of Source
11. Apparent Speed
12. Apparent Altitude
13. Length of Time Observed
In many instances it has been difficult to establish sub-divisions due to the great variety of descriptions. In these instances, certain broad categories were established.
B. Location of Additional Files
The D/I Library files were searched during the past month and approximately 50 additional incidents were located. Copies of these have been requested. It is believed that the ATIC file on unidentified aerial objects now contains a large majority of all incidents reported to the Air Force since 1947.
C. Directives for Reporting Incidents
A new proposed directive for reporting sightings of unidentified aerial objects has been sent to the D/I for approval and distribution. This directive will replace existing directives and provide more expeditious channels for reporting sightings.
Now having mostly caught up on acquiring, organizing, and cross-indexing sighting reports, the fifth status report, dated 31 March 1952, showed the new Project Grudge ready to radically alter its approach from its predecessor, starting with a change of name for the project...
A. Change of Project Nickname
The nickname of the project, which was formerly "Grudge", has been officially changed to "Blue Book".
B. Directive for Reporting Incidents
A proposed directive to replace AFOIN-C/CC-2 directive dated 19 December 1951, subject "Reporting of Information on Unconventional Aircraft", has been coordinated with ATIC and forwarded to D/I for approval.
This directive is similar to the directive of 19 December 1951 except it will require that all reports be made by wire to ATIC, ADC, and V/TC and that these wire reports be followed up by an Air Force Form 112 sent directly to ATIC and V/TC. Past experience has shown that in order to carry our investigations successfully ATIC must be informed of sightings immediately, by direct channels.
C. Holloman Report
Project Blue Book has recently received a copy of a report written by personnel of Holloman AFB, New Mexico. This report, dated 25 July 1951, compiles the results of an investigation of unidentified aerial phenomena carried out at Holloman AFB.
The project consisted of an organized watch for the objects, the watchers being equipped with cameras. Several photos were obtained with hand held cameras. The photos show only a round image with no details for identification. On two occasions objects were photographed with Askania theodolites, once on 27 April 1950. The results were not satisfactory, however, and no data could be obtained because in the first instance only one station was tracking and in the second instance two stations tracked two different objects.
The report makes no conclusions as to the identity of the objects. However, it does establish the fact that some type of object did exist.
Action will be taken by Project Blue Book to establish liaison with Holloman AFB and determine if any additional results have been obtained.
D. Life Article on Unidentified Aerial Objects
Mr. Robert Ginna of the Life Magazine Staff visited ATIC on 3 March 1952 to obtain material for an article which will appear in Life on 4 April 1952. He was very familiar with this subject as he has spent a great deal of time in research. The article has been coordinated with Hq USAF.
The interesting aspect of the visit by Mr. Ginna was the fact that Life has information on several sightings by highly qualified observers that were unknown to ATIC. These people, all civilians, had not reported their observations to any military sources, consequently, ATIC did not have the reports. With the exception of these and several more minor reports, ATIC did have information on all of the incidents that he inquired about.
It is believed that Mr. Ginna's contact with the Air Force established an excellent source of material in that Life has representatives all over the world and these people are sending reports to Life as a matter of routine. ATIC will have access to these reports.
E. Visit by Dr. Joseph Kaplan
On 7 March 1952, Dr. Joseph Kaplan, Professor of Physics at UCLA and a member of the AF Scientific Advisory Board visited ATIC to discuss methods of obtaining more factual information on the reported unidentified aerial objects than has been obtained in the past. His primary interest is the "Green Fireball" phenomena, but the methods he suggested can be applied to any object.
The "green fireballs" were a phenomena which had developed primarily over New Mexico. Occurring uncomfortably close to vital installations, they were unusually bright, of an exceptionally long duration, and of a color not natural to meteors -- all according to Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, of the New Mexico Institute of Meteoritics, who himself had witnessed one, and who became the primary investigator of that particular phenomenon. After this mention, the status report continued...
Dr. Kaplan's suggestion is to use spectrum analysis as an aid in identifying the objects. Any object that emits light will have a definite spectrum. The first step in Dr. Kaplan's suggested plan is to obtain the spectrum of the object. This spectrum is then matched with the spectrum of known objects such as meteors, stars, etc., to eliminate or establish the fact that they are known objects. If the objects are not astronomical bodies and [sic] spectrum will give some indication as to what they might be. For example, a spectrum of an exhaust trail would show the composition of the exhaust. These examples apply to night sightings in general; however, bright objects appearing in the daytime could be analyzed in a similar manner. If the object were reflecting light instead of emitting it, the spectrum would be the same as that of the sun. Then it would be a case of establishing whether or not there was an aircraft in the area.
The system will afford a means of determining whether or not reported objects are actually some new type of aircraft or merely misidentification of known objects. This suggested system would not completely fulfill the requirements of the project, however, it is a quick, economical mans of obtaining more concrete information than now exists and is considered a first step in the investigation.
To obtain the spectrume [sic] of the objects, two methods have been suggested. One is the use of a comparatively large (8" x 8") diffraction grating. The observer upon seeing an object would hold up the grating and observe the object through the grating. A means would be provided for marking the observed spectrum on the grating. This would then be sent to some expert for analysis. The second method, and the one under consideration would be to construct an inexpensive hand held camera with a diffraction grating over the lens. With this method a permanent record of the observation would be obtained.
The gratings or grating camera combinations would be inexpensive enough so that several hundred could be procured. Areas where observations have been concentrated would be stressed. Groups such as security patrols, control tower operators, and anyone who spends a great deal of time out-of-doors would be equipped with the instruments and be given a set of instructions as to how to use them.
Action has been taken to determine the feasibility of such a program.
F. Air Defense Command and Joint Air Defense Board Briefing
On 19 March 1952, General Chidlaw and his staff, of the Air Defense Command, and General Gardner and his staff, of the Joint Air Defense Board, were briefed by an ATIC briefing team. The groups were briefed on the history and operations of Project Blue Book and a member of the Aircraft Performance and Characteristics Branch of ATIC presented data on missile and types of unconventional aircraft that are known to exist or have existed.
The purpose of the briefing was to present the problem to ADC and determine how they can help. It was found that ADC presently has about 30 radar sites equipped with scope cameras. Those cameras are not operational on a 24-hour basis but this could be accomplished in a minimum time particularly in locations of special interest to Project Blue Book. Radar scope photographs would be of great value in interpreting some of the unusual radar returns that are reported.
Action has been taken to initiate a program with ADC to utilize their radar facilities.
G. Beacon Hill Group Briefing
The Beacon Hill Group, Air Force Technical Advisers, were briefed on 26 March 1952 in Boston. This group, consisting of AF consultants in the fields of electronics, optics, acoustics, data collation and other fields, was briefed so that they would have an understanding of the problems confronting Project Blue Book and could offer suggestions.
The "Beacon Hill" group consisted of top scientists in the soon-to-be-established Lincoln Laboratories, tasked with developing a radar early warning system against aerial attack...
After the briefing several hours were spent discussing the project. The main point of the discussion was to arrive at some means of establishing whether or not there is some unusual type of aircraft flying over the United States.
Several very excellent suggestions were offered. One was to employ sound detection apparatus in the locations where concentrations of sightings have been reported. This equipment, which is very sensitive to sound, can be left unattended eliminating the problem of personnel for a continual watch. Sounds from aircraft, wind, insects, etc., can be identified, consequently, if the apparatus were placed far enough from a populated area and highway to eliminate a large percentage of the sounds, any unknown sound would be of value in indicating the presence of an unidentified object. It is understood that this equipment is available.
The problem of photographic equipment was discussed. It was found that almost any type of photographic surveillance equipment desired could be built, however, some of it would be expensive. The question of the ability of large astronomical observatories detecting any unusual objects with any of their telescopes or meteor cameras was brought up. It was agreed that their chances of observing an object at random was low, unless they knew of its presence and directed their equipment toward it. This was, very interesting because some people have had the theory that no unusual objects could exist because they would have been detected by observatories. In the future, cameras, professionally termed "patrol cameras" will be developed that can detect such objects, but this development is not contemplated in the near future.
Another suggestion offered by the group was to go back through old newspaper files and other sources and try to determine whether or not this phenomena is new. This has been done by several authors but the sources of some of these reports are doubtful. The group believed that if such phenomena as disk-shaped objects, green fireballs, etc., did occur they would have been reported and would be recorded.
This group, all of whom were experts in their fields, were very much interested in the problems of trying to identify these objects and can be counted upon for aid as problems arise.
The actual and contemplated changes were almost breathtaking in scope. Top scientists were being involved in the effort and potential new technology involving radar, sound, and photography was being identified. Ruppelt was personally briefing the generals of other commands and their staffs -- in this case, the Air Defense Command, which would eventually be targeted to play a pivotal role in the effort. And in a startling development, the press was being let into it all.
This new-found openness would be ratcheted up with an appearance by Ruppelt and Colonel S.H. Kirkland of ATIC -- just two days following the 31 March 1952 status report and with the Robert Ginna Life magazine article "Have We Visitors From Space" then on the newsstands -- at a meeting of a citizens group devoted to researching the phenomena. The citizens group was variously known Civilian Saucer Investigation, Civilian Saucer Intelligence, and other variations, represented by the acronym "CSI", with its major chapters located in New York and Los Angeles. The appearance of Ruppelt and Kirkland was in the form of a question-and-answer session with the members of the Los Angeles branch -- Felix W.A. Knoll (Aeronautical Consultant, Northrop Aircraft), Edward J. Sullivan (Technical Writer, North American Aviation), Dr. Walter A. Riedel (Project Engineer, North American Aviation), John O. Barnes (Structures Group Leader, North American Aviation), Norton H. Nelson (Electrical Group Leader, North American Aviation), John J. Newton (Design Engineer, North American Aviation) and Ruby C. Pryor (Secretary, North American Aviation).
These were mostly well-connected professionals engaged in jet aircraft and rocketry, the industry itself heavily intertwined with the military. More surprising was the "invited" guest list which also attended the presentation by Ruppelt and Kirkland...
Richard W. Williams, Staff Editor, Los Angeles Mirror
Homer M. Davies, Jr., Executive, Columbia Motion Picture Studios
John Bryson, Staff Writer, Life Magazine
Vic Meryman, Staff Writer, Life Magazine
J. Ireman, Staff Photographer, Life Magazine
John Allen, Staff Writer, Time Magazine
The lengthy minutes of the meeting (which got Mr. Davies name wrong, spelling it "Daview") gave the Q&A in full...
MINUTES OF MEETING OF CIVILIAN SAUCER INVESTIGATIONS HELD WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 1952, 8:00 PM,
IN THE MAYFAIR HOTEL, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
The meeting was opened by the Chairman, E.J. Sullivan, who introduced Col. Kirkland and Lt. Ruppelt, representatives of Air Technical Command.
1. Col. Kirkland: When we first heard of your group, we were very eager to get out and meet you and let you know what we are trying to do. The Air Force has gone through a series of attitudes on these gadgets. Lt. Ruppelt and I have not been with it very long; however, we were in the Technical Intelligence Center when the interest seemed to be renewed in this thing. In surveying the situation at that time, we found that there was a record of around 800 cases. Many of them had not been evaluated. The general effort seemed go [sic] be to prove that these things were known objects -- planes, balloons, etc. The official attitude of the Air Force is that we would like to know what they are. We don't want to get caught in the trap of the gentleman who came out and said they were all Skyhook balloons. It is obvious that they cover too wide range to be pinned on only one thing.
The effort that we are making now is to get more facts. We don't know what these things are -- we haven't the slightest idea. In skimming through the LIFE article, I noticed one conclusion that we had not been able to reach, and that is the indication that these things are made by some intelligence that we do not understand. In the history of this project we have attempted to use specialists in various fields. To date, nothing significant has come out of our investigation. We have felt that we should have available a group of scientists as a sort of panel that we can call on. In other words, when we have a case that might be of interest to a man in a certain area, we can throw it to him. It might be if the green fireballs were given to a scientist and he was turned loose on the case, the results would be different. We welcome any suggestion as to how we can get more facts. We don't hear of all the cases. There is a report system set up for them, however, and if anyone who sees unidentifiable objects in the air would report to the nearest Air Force Base, the information would get to us. About 15% of the total reports defy explanation. They defy it possibly because we don't have enough facts. But we won't know until we get the facts.
2. Lt. Ruppelt: We are trying to adopt a policy not too influenced by the fact that previous ideas have been that everything is balloons or that everybody is crazy who reports them. We are trying to keep on the straight and narrow. We have never had enough data to say that there was something. There is always one or two factors missing that we have to have. We have never had an altitude measure on anything. I'm very familiar with all reports in the last year. We have never had one on which they could get triangulation from two stations at once. If something is over 5,000 feet and you don't know how big it is, you don't have any idea how high it is. The final key factor is somebody's judgement. We are not saying that these people are not good judges, but we want the facts down in black and white. The first thing we are going to do is use a diffraction grating to try to determine the composition of these things. If we can get photographs of light sightings, that will give us a spectrum -- a good lead. It [sic] these lights are not meteors, we can go to radar or other devices like that. We have never had a visual sighting and a radar sign [sic] together. We have had ground sightings and sent fighters up. The fighters get a return but they have never been able to see what they got the return from. We have had two or three in Oak Ridge like that. One good slighting [sic] we had was in Dayton where some airline pilots reported seeing this object and it turned out that it was a very thin layer of ice clouds. At the same time Venus was very outstanding in that part of the sky. The pilots were seeing Venus and the radar scope was picking up the ice clouds.
We have thought of trying to tie in cameras with the radar sets. Then if we get any image at all on the film we will know that the radar is actually picking up an image. But we haven't got any cases at all where we have concrete facts.
This picture in LIFE of the V-shaped lights is a good finding. We don't see that these people aren't being truthful about these pictures. But we don't have any pictures taken under controlled conditions, and we have to have pictures taken under such conditions so that we know how they were done. We have taken some at White Sands, but it is difficult to tell whether they were meteors. These things may look like meteors and yet they may not be meteors. The only thing we have on night objects is the word of the observer.
There is whole sets of unknowns that come in on a sighting of that type. All we want is good cold facts, and we are open to any suggestions. We are not trying to pull the idea that these things might come from Russia or that they might be interplanetary -- we just plain don't know. We need facts to back up the money we have spent on this thing. We have developed a reporting system in the Air Force that has been in force for the last five years. In the last two years, most of our reports have come from military sources. In many cases, we have been able to pin down these objects as weather balloons.
There has been a lot of controversy on the case where pilots saw this thing in Alabama. Astronomers say they think a lot of the details are imagined. Now I don't know. I'm not going to take a side on that. I talked to one pilot about two months ago who gave the Air Force the very devil for shooting missiles in the airways. I never did convince him that it was not one of our missiles they were test firing over the center of Michigan. This is the impression some pilots get from these things. I would like to be very fair with these things and figure out every angle.
3. Col. Kirkland: One way we have been handling the material is by breaking it down into types and locations, etc. We have in the file all those cases that are definitely explained. Then there is a smaller group definitely unexplained. Then there is a segment that might be explained. Getting into the cost angle, it is awfully difficult when you consider that the chance of seeing one of these things is pretty slim. A radar sighting, unless it is of a known object, means nothing. One way electronics people rule it out, in addition to getting an actual photograph, is to have two sets on different frequencies picking up the same thing. These are the types of problems that we are running into. It is difficult for us to say that we are convinced the problem is so serious that we have got to have every radar set focused on this job. What we are doing now is on a limited basis. But if we find we are not getting any facts, we will go a little bit further.
4. Lt. Ruppelt: We have about 800 reports that have come in since 1947. We are going around the country to all the Government agencies that might have received reports that we have never gotten and filing these in one location. In 1947, more reports came from Washington and Oregon. In 1948, they seemed to move over to the east coast to a certain extent. For the rest of the time, they seemed to spread out over the United States. There is concentration around Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, White Sands, Dayton and Columbus. There are concentrations to a certain extent around the port areas such as New Orleans, New York, San Francisco. We don't know what that might mean. White Sands and Albuquerque area is the most logical place for us to start putting out our cameras, and that is where we are going to put them. We have broken these things down according to shape. I think about 27% are this familiar saucer shape or sphere. That type of report has dropped off. We have a certain percentage, 35%, that could very well be meteors or bright stars. About 2% could actually be some sort of aircraft like delta-wing. About 5% are groups of lights. About 10% are cigar-shaped or rocket-shaped articles. Any bright light that is moving through the sky will burn an image on your eye and be elongated. About 15% are just miscellaneous -- just anything you can imagine. We have attempted to establish some kind of pattern for these, but we have so many shapes that it is a little difficult. Lights at night are very common. We get reports of those all the time.
This green fireball is the only type of sighting that consistently sets the same pattern all the way along. This is the first thing we are going to put our diffraction grating to work on. They seem to run in cycles. December and January seem to be the big months. I happened to see one like that down in Texas. They are very impressive. In fact they scare you. One idea is that they are something tied in with the aurora. Another suggestion is that it is a new kind of meteor that we have never heard of before, and that is possible. Even well-known astronomers feel that there is enough unknown about these things that we should concentrate on them, and we are going to do that. The big percentage of the reports fall in the civilian category but a good many have been reported by Air Force pilots. About 5% are by scientists at White Sands, and people in that category. We are sincerely interested in those. We have a few reports from civilian pilots flying across country. We feel that military personnel are fairly reliable observers. When they send in reports through Air Force channels, it eliminates all possibility of a joke. If those military people every [sic] got caught joking through channels...! A lot of people have been very interested in the 90-degree turns that these things make and a [sic] number of G's they pull in making those turns. The few saucer shapes we have had reported have actually turned out to be balloons. A balloon going up will appear to be flat. But the old standard report of a definite saucer shape has fallen off a lot. We have attempted to go into a little survey and find out whether these reports actually started in 1947 or whether people just became conscious of them and started to report them then. If we can't find a mention anywhere of these things before 1947, it must be that they did start to occur in 1947. This book by Charles Fort -- we have had a couple of astronomers look that over. They can't disprove that stuff, but they can't prove it in black and white either.
5. Knoll: Are his sources of information authentic?
6. Ruppelt: That we have not yet been able to check. But we thought we would check it.
7. Williams: We have received a few scattered letters of reports seen years ago.
8. Ruppelt: It is possible we will get those too. We threw away a lot of letters we got with similar information. One reason that we didn't want much publicity on this is because of the crackpot letters. It's our policy to answer every letter we get no matter what it says. We do get some reputable letters mixed in with the crackpot letters. We didn't have too many reputable letters with reports dated back before 1947. We had one from a mountaineer in Tennessee sitting before his fireplace and a wheel of fire went through his front room and he got over his arthritis. We get some reports from all over the world. I would say that one of every twenty comes from outside the U.S.
9. Ireman: What is the frequency of sightings now?
10. Ruppelt: There is some semblance of a pattern on the frequency of these things. We haven't had any luck on pinning them down. We checked with the atomic bomb tests to see if there was any correlation but there wasn't. Incidentally, we are going to start putting this stuff on IBM cards because we have got so much that we can't handle them with the card index that we have now.
11. Kirkland: People have come up with all sorts of ideas on correlations. One fellow we met said he had found that those cases he knew of all occurred at high and low tides. In checking this, we found no correlation. But there are all sorts of ideas.
12. Ruppelt: We have very little data we can go on except these trends in checks. If we plot these things, we have a peak, then a dead spot, then another peak. I don't know why that is. One thing is that in the last three years there has been very little newspaper publicity on this. But reports continue to come in to us at about the same rate. We can't pin down why that is unless it is something that occurs on some definite cycle.
13. Kirkland: We've had several reports a week over the past years. We don't have exact figures. I frequently pick up a paper and see of a sighting that we never hear about. There was interesting one over Columbus a few weeks ago that was explained by the newspapers. As many of you are aware, airline pilots are rather reluctant to report these things. They feel it might reflect on them in some way. Many of us have talked to various airline pilots we know and we find that they have seen things we couldn't explain but they didn't report them.
14. Nelson: This tone has run through a lot of our letters: "I haven't mentioned this to anyone because they would call me nuts, so I'm writing to you."
15. Ruppelt: The rumor has it that these airline pilots see a lot of things. We are going to try to work with the airlines and work out some kind of system so that the pilot's names will never appear on the reports. In certain instances we have known that a pilot has seen something and we will go and talk to the pilot and he will deny ever having seen anything.
16. Ireman: Did these things ever go into any final action that fits into a pattern?
17. Kirkland: No, except in specific types such as the green fireballs.
18. Ireman: Was there a pattern of the saucers blowing up?
19. Kirkland: There were cases of these things blowing up, but not many of them.
20. Williams: Did you ever run down the Farmington deal? It occurred two years ago this March for three days overhead. About two-thirds of the total population got out in the streets about noon each day and they saw hundreds of objects overhead. We have never been able to get information from the newspaper editor who reported them. He is still working there and we had actually wondered if he had been shut up by some governmental agency.
21. Ruppelt: We have never to my knowledge, told anybody not to talk about what they saw. We have told people not to go out and make a big deal out of it. And I can say that the FBI is not in on this. We won't call in the FBI because we just don't operate that way.
22. Knoll: Did you ever find how the farmer in Portland who took a picture got his picture?
23. Ruppelt: No. And the one up in Oregon where the guys picked up part of one and were flying back with them and their plane disappeared -- that was hoax. The guy dreamed up the whole story. Two guys in a plane were definitely killed, but there was no connection with the flying saucers. It was just one of those things that happened. As a last resort, when somebody dreams up a story like this, we will go and talk to them and say now if you confess to us we will keep it confidential. We have done that in several cases. Our photographs that we do put some faith in never have enough details that we can tell what they are.
24. Bryson: How did you get your best pictures so far?
25. Ruppelt: I think these Lubbock pictures are the best we have ever received. This kid seemed to be very honest about the whole thing. The only thing that worried me was that his father was with him every time we talked to him. He may have started out as a joke and just been afraid to back out.
The incident at Lubbock, Texas, had occurred over a period of months, beginning in August, 1951. In the Life magazine article "Have We Visitors From Space?" -- just appearing on the newstands at the same time of Ruppelt and Kirkland's presentation at CSI -- it was reported thusly...
THE LUBBOCK LIGHTS, flying in formation, are considered by the Air Force the most unexplainable phenomena yet observed. These photographs were made at Lubbock, Texas on Aug. 30, 1951 by Carl Hart Jr. Scientists say lights were not natural objects, but they traveled too fast and too soundlessly for known machines.
Incident 1. At 9:10 p.m. on Aug. 25, 1951, Dr. W.I. Robinson, professor of geology at the Texas technological College, stood in the back yard of his home in Lubbock, Texas and chatted with two colleagues. The other men were Dr. A.G. Oberg, a professor of chemical engineering, and Professor W.L. Ducker, head of the department of petroleum engineering. The night was clear and dark. Suddenly all three men saw a number of lights race noiselessly across the sky, from horizon to horizon, in a few seconds. They gave the impression of about 30 luminous beads, arranged in a crescent shape. A few moments later another similar formation flashed across the night. This time the scientists were able to judge that the lights moved through 30° of arc in a second. A check the next day with the Air Force showed that no planes had been over the area at the time. This was but the beginning: Professor Ducker observed 12 flights of the luminous objects between August and November of last year. Some of his colleagues observed as many as 10. Hundreds of nonscientific observers in a wide vicinity around Lubbock have seen as many as three flights of the mysterious crescents in one night. On the night of Aug. 30 an attempt to photograph the lights was made by 18-year old Carl Hart Jr. He used a Kodak 35-mm camera, at f. 3.5, 1/10 of a second. Working rapidly, Hart managed to get five exposures of the flights. The pictures exhibited by Hart as the result of this effort (pp. 80-81) show 18 to 20 luminous objects, more intense than the planet Venus, arranged in one or a pair of crescents. In several photographs, off to one side of the main flight, a larger luminosity is visible -- like a mother craft hovering near its aerial brood.
Professors at Texas Tech who saw Lubbock Lights (left to right), Dr. Oberg, Prof. Ducker, and Dr. Robinson, discuss them with Dr. E.L. George.
Evaluation. The observations have been too numerous and too similar to be doubted. In addition the Air Force, after the closest examination, has found nothing fraudulent about Hart's pictures. The lights are much too bright to be reflections, and therefore bodies containing sources of light. Since Professors Ducker, Oberg and Robinson could not measure the size and distance of the formations, they could form no precise estimate of their speed. However they calculated that if the lights were flying at an altitude of 5,000 feet they must then have been traveling about 1,800 mph. The professors, along with other scientists, agree that in order to explain the silence of the objects, it must be assumed that they were at least 50,000 feet in the air; in which case they were going not 1,800 but 18,000 mph.
Continuing with the CSI transcript...
26. Sullivan: One interesting thing is that these lights are almost heart-shaped. In some letters we have gotten, the writer has gone to great lengths to draw exactly the same shape.
27. Ruppelt: Are you familiar with the fact that the college professor says these pictures are fakes?
28. Ireman: How did the intensities compare?
29. Ruppelt: We checked intensities thoroughly. Roughly they compare to a bright planet at night.
30. Ireman: How did you hope to get a spectrum on these objects moving?
31. Kirkland: We have that in the hands of one of the professors who is working on it now. They haven't given it a trial yet -- they don't know.
32. Ruppelt: We are going on the basis of these visual reports the people have been comparing in intensities with the full moon. If they get much dimmer, we are out of luck.
33. Ireman: I'm very much impressed with the lack of intensity. Those measurements in the hands of inexpert people will, I believe, make the program a very tough one to carry out.
34. Kirkland: It is going to be rather interesting to follow it because so far they are pretty encouraging. If we get anything even approaching the light of the moon, we have got something.
35. Knoll: Is the Air Force or any agency concerned with trying to establish positively that there are two asteroids in the orbit of the earth -- small bodies that might be ideal as a space station. They might be artificially placed there. If that is true, wouldn't it pay to observe these bodies with first class telescopes?
36. Ruppelt: The Air Force, in another project, does have astronomers working on various things, and I think if that existed they are aware of it and are working on it. That has been given some thought.
37. Knoll: Another hypothesis would be whether the moon has been used as a space station. It would be the first natural stop for somebody coming from outer space.
38. Nelson: Was any correlation made of the frequency of these sightings with Earth's position to other planets?
39. Ruppelt: That was taken up several years ago. I forget the results but it was nothing outstanding because we would have remembered it. Getting back to your question, Mr. Knoll, I can't answer that.
40. Bryson: Have you ever had any reports from personnel who work on the mountain of Palomar?
41. Ruppelt: No, we haven't. We have never [sic] there officially, however. We had a report from a very reliable astronomer. Another place we haven't had any reports from are those cosmic ray stations that are spread up and down the Rockies.
42. Ireman: A lot of those people are reluctant to discuss things. Have they been alerted?
43. Ruppelt: No, they have never been officially alerted.
44. Bryson: Could you give us any details on the pictures that were taken from an Arctic station of a trail burned through an overcast?
45. Ruppelt: That was looked at by astronomers and they all agree that it was a large fireball.
46. Bryson: Do you mean comet or fireball?
47. Ruppelt: Well, I don't know how we will define that term. A large meteor could leave that trail. Is that the one that was reported in 1948?
48. Knoll: Have you been in touch with the Brown-Townsend Foundation? They can demonstrate a saucer, its corona discharge and all.
49. Kirkland: We have heard a great deal of that. That was reported in detail by a gentleman who had spent some time with them, and I understand that he is still interested in it.
50. Ruppelt: Some of our best sightings had this discharge. That is a confusing thing. You don't see a definite object.
51. Dr. Riedel: My personal touch into that Foundation is not a deep one. The Foundation has once contacted North American Aviation but they never showed the experiment, only discussed it, and it came to absolute disinterest on North American's side. Mr. Knoll and I saw two saucers which they showed us. Those corona discharges are very interesting. The diameter of the total unit is nearly the width of this room.
52. Ruppelt: One company found out about this and they hired some physicists to look into it. They came up with the conclusion that there is not enough information either way to allow them to put any more money into it. But they are still watching it.
53. Kirkland: Frequently, companies will come to us and they strongly suspect that it is something we have got that is being seen, and that is how we happened to hear of this one.
54. Knoll: This thing is mounted on about 1/16 plexiglass sheet.
55. Sullivan: We first heard about this in a letter we received in our Post Office box.
56. Bryson: Could you give us an idea about how the Air Force changed its policy regarding saucers.
57. Kirkland: It is very difficult to say the Air Force changed its policy. I arrived at the Center about August 1950. We continued to collect data even after the impression got out that we were clamping up. We still had this group of cases that we could not explain. We have always had them. Within the last year, the top people in the Air Force have become more concerned, possibly because they have become more aware of some of those cases that were not explained. As a result, when the press or someone else came in to talk, they got the story. As far as I am concerned, at my level there has never been any change in policy. I think the attitude at the top has possibly changed. Our immediate superior in Washington has been interested and concerned the same as we have at the working level.
58. Bryson: I mean after four or five years of non-acknowledgement that such things exist, why have they reversed their decision, for example, with the sightings over Korea? That was the first time that the Air Force ever positively admitted that unexplained objects were flying around.
59. Kirkland: I'm reasonably sure there were a lot of unexplained cases. At our level there has never been any inclination to deny it. For some reason the project was pretty highly classified. I suppose it was a reluctance to stir up any wave of hysteria. I'm quite sure that the impression got out the Air Force was pulling these things. The Chief of our Center was quoted as not believing in these things -- I mean he really felt that they were explainable. I know Lt. Ruppelt and I, ever since we have been exposed to this thing, had had the feeling that there is the unexplainable in it and we would like to have the facts. There may have been some reasoning on the Air Staff level that I didn't know about that supported this public announcement.
60. Bryson: There was no clear-cut policy at all?
61. Kirkland: To me there never has been.
62. Ireman: How about when Truman popped off, when he said absolutely and positively no?
63. Kirkland: I don't remember this.
64. Williams: One of the most widely published things was Henry J. Taylor's report in the Reader's Digest.
65. Ruppelt: I remember that.
Henry J. Taylor had said that the saucers "are not from another planet, not from Russia, but right here from the United States of America" in a March, 1950, radio broadcast, as well as written the same in his nationally-syndicated newspaper column. That same day the magazine U.S. News and World Report had claimed that saucers were United States "aircraft of a revolutionary type, a combination of helicopter and fast jet plane." Continuing with the CSI transcript...
66. Williams: My experience has been that that, more than any single factor, has impressed the public that these things must be ours.
67. Kirkland: We still run into that attitude.
68. Bryson: Maybe there is something the Navy has that the Air Force doesn't know about.
69. Ruppelt: It isn't at all impossible that this is something of ours, but if it is, it is a super Manhattan, because we have tried in every way to find out.
70. Bryson: You say there are other projects where numerous astronomers are working for the Air Force. Do you get reports from those projects that would tie in to this one?
71. Ruppelt: Right. But we haven't had many.
72. Kirkland: We feel that it would surely have to be a super deal to be something of our own. Of course we would be foolish if we didn't admit that it is a possibility, but it is not very probable.
73. Bryson: Could you give us any details on the sighting station that was established at Vaughn, New Mexico?
74. Ruppelt: That is still classified to a certain extent. They had a system for using a diffraction grating on a camera. The thing was set up just about the time the Korean war started. A lot of personnel were lost to the Korean war. They picked up one sighting, that was all they had. Those people may sit there for about six months and not see anything. One night this thing came along and they missed it.
75. Kirkland: It was rather poorly handled. The idea was good.
76. Bryson: Does Research and Development have projects going after this same thing?
77. Ruppelt: The minute we identify something then it passes out of the field of unidentified objects. Col. Kirkland made a comment about the classification of this thing. At one time they did have a classification as high as Top Secret. Now we are trying to get it down to Restricted so that we can offer this information to anybody who needs it. If it was completely declassified, then anybody in the U.S. would have access to it. That would entail much work. We put out a report once a month that is classified SECRET. The saucer project itself is not SECRET. If you hear that there is classified report coming out on this subject, that is the reason for its classification.
78. Kirkland: We are getting it down now so we can talk to anybody about it. The important thing is that we do occasionally get into a classified project. But that doesn't mean that we can't discuss the case with you.
79. Knoll: Has the Air Force worked out a standard report form or questionnaire?
80. Kirkland: Yes.
81. Knoll: Would that be available for our use?
82. Kirkland: Yes, indeed.
83. Nelson: Would it be possible to get our group cleared to work with classified material?
84. Kirkland: I don't think there would be any problem getting them cleared. There was great reluctance -- in a few cases -- letting us know what they were all about. But on this I don't think there would be any problem.
85. Ruppelt: In fact a lot of this stuff we will even knock down below RESTRICTED to give you. We can't give you any background on a person that might reflect on his character, for instance. But we can indicate a lot.
86. Knoll: Have you ever had a report on a sighting either on the ground or near the ground?
87. Ruppelt: We have had a few but they have always come from this type of doubtful character. There was one in Minnesota where a couple of kids saw one land and take off and it actually left a dent in the ground. There again we have no proof. We can't draw any conclusions unless we have actually got something to put our hands on. I've talked to an awful lot of these people, and you can, in your own mind, draw conclusions by just talking to them. Sometimes they are very sincere. You know they saw something, but you're not sure what. We have working with us now a couple of psychologists. They are trying to figure out just how much a person can imagine from seeing a certain object. When you get into subjects like that, you are working with something very intangible.
On the same day the Lubbock pictures were taken, there were two ladies driving about 60 miles north of there. They saw this pear-shaped thing. They compared it to the size of an oil well. This thing hovered along, then took off all of a sudden. These women aren't trying to feed us a line or anything. But all the information we had was just their story. We couldn't back it up.
88. Bryson: Do your patterns show any activity toward their trying to contact or get near anything of ours? Or any tendency to go away when they are sighted?
89. Kirkland: People have thought they saw patterns like that. You might think that since everyone of our important bases or areas have had sightings it would be significant, but again you can't pin it down.
90. Bryson: My question was isn't there tendency for them to disappear when there are any of our craft around?
91. Kirkland: There is a tendency.
92. Ruppelt: In other words, you mean has there ever been a report where one has tended to stay around? One up in South Dakota tended to stay around -- if there was anything to it at all.
93. Bryson: Take for instance, your Lubbock report. Lubbock comes in the Albuquerque defense zone. Amarillo has a large fighter contingent. Were any reports received by the Air Force? Lubbock has an air base. Did anyone phone the base at the time?
94. Ruppelt: No. At that time things were fouled up and we didn't get that report.
95. Kirkland: I don't know why they didn't call the base in Lubbock. I strongly suspect that it was done and they just got hold of somebody who didn't make the report. You may have a policy established, but if you aren't following up on it people just forget about it.
96. Bryson: Can't you specify that Air Force officers be told about this?
97. Kirkland: What we intend to do is periodically follow up and make sure that all those people get the word.
98. Bryson: This LIFE article will probably help.
99. Ruppelt: It will spread the word around that we do want these reports. You are all familiar with military channels. Things go half way around the world before they get to the right people. Now we have changed that. Everyone is authorized to come to us directly with these things.
100. Bryson: You would think that radar would pick them up. What's the situation there?
101. Ruppelt: There was no radar at all in the Lubbock area which was on at the time. Now we have to we will fly radar equipment in. Again it is a matter of judgement whether or not it would be worthwhile to do.
102. Bryson: Some fellow reported that every time they fired a rocket into the stratosphere these little discs would cluster around and that the Air Force had special objects for tracking them. Do you know about this?
103. Ruppelt: No, I don't think that is right.
104. Bryson: Well, he also said that these little discs clustered around planes frequently -- foo fighters.
105. Ruppelt: That is something that I don't know about. I saw those over in the Pacific myself and I'm thoroughly convinced that it was some kind of static electricity discharge.
106. Williams: Speaking of these small discs and lights and so on, there was an excellent report a year or two ago from the Hamilton Control Tower. Do you recall this report?
107. Ruppelt: No, I don't recall this. You will find that there is going to be a block of reports that never were thoroughly investigated. That will be about the time the Air Force cut back and they just didn't have the manpower to check these things. If we could ever get two radar stations on one object at the same time, we would get a lot of information.
108. Sullivan: Have you ever made any sort of contact in the pursuits that have gone up from time to time?
109. Ruppelt: No, not if they have definitely gone up after something.
110. Sullivan: A good possibility came in over our plant out in Downey. But nobody walked out with a camera.
111. Nelson: You can't have cameras in there.
112. Sullivan: It hovered in one spot and then moved over and lay there for fifteen minutes, then waggled and was gone. It was just a luminous spot.
113. Ruppelt: Weather balloons give us a lot of trouble because they reflect the sun. A balloon is launched at definite times during the day. They very seldom stay up for more than an hour from the time they are launched. They are launched every six hours, 4 in the afternoon and 10 at night, Eastern Standard Time. Balloons normally can't be seen above 6,000 or 8,000 feet, but if they pick up the sun just exactly right they can be seen up to 10,000 feet.
114. Bryson: What is the closest a plane has ever approached a saucer that you have gotten a report on?
115. Kirkland: That's a good question because they don't know what size object they are looking at. A Navy man flew over one to see if it was a balloon, but he never was sure what it was.
116. Knoll: Could he guess at the size?
117. Kirkland: Yes, he could because he flew over it and knew his altitude. He said it was a sphere. I'm still convinced that it was a balloon, but it did do some things that we can't explain. He judged it to be 30 feet in diameter. If it was, it would only have been two or three hundred feet high. It was over a densely populated area and somebody else would have seen it if these facts were true.
118. Sullivan: To prove that people don't see very much, there was a particular corner at the Plant where each morning for a week I laid down a dime, and each evening I picked it up again. I never lost it.
119. Ruppelt: We have thought about that a lot. We have thought of running some experiments on how much we could fly an object without noise or lights and people would not look up.
120. Bryson: Did you have a peak of sightings this January?
121. Ruppelt: Yes, to a certain extent we did. We may still be getting reports of things that were seen in January.
122. Kirkland: The peaks were, as I recall, after and around the holiday season and in the late spring. I have no idea actually how many total sightings we have in the file.
123. Bryson: Do your increased activities at this time come from a harder push from higher level?
124. Kirkland: It is about a combination. In my case, running the Analysis Division is like running a production line. It is pretty hard for me to see pulling a lot of strength off some other project to put it into something that we can't even feel justified in spending a lot of money for. In fact, this project was operated by one man for a while. The cataloging we have done on our own over the last year and a half. Now I think the greatest thing we are going to get out of the increased interest is coming up with ideas for getting more facts.
125. Bryson: You mean up until this time the Air Defense command had never been brought in?
126. Kirkland: Yes, they get every report that we do. But when it came to the point of getting somebody to take some action, to get more facts, we usually had a selling job. Lt. Ruppelt would frequently go to a base and he had the devil of a time finding the people concerned. They had submitted their story, and they just simply were not interested any more. It's not a normal mission for our organization.
127. Davies: It's not normal for the human race, and somebody has to have imagination about what they are.
128. Kirkland: In our case, we have put as much effort on it as we feel we possibly can. The greatest thing is that we can now go to other agencies and more readily get information that we couldn't get in the past.
129. Bryson: In your capacity as Chief of this project, would you say categorically that in your opinion that there is something in that 15% we don't know anything about?
130. Kirkland: I would say something that we have not been able to define because we lack the facts to do it. Take the green fireballs. They are like no known meteor. Maybe it is some aerial phenomena that we have observed for the first time. It is also possible with some of these things that have been seen, like the lights -- I'm sure the people saw something -- if we had additional facts they might be explained as something we know, or something we don't know -- I can't say. When men like La Paz say they are positive it is not a meteor, I don't know. We have no direct relationship with La Paz on this project. We have gotten all sorts of reports on him from his colleagues. Most of them boil down to the fact that they think he is a pretty competent meteorologist but a queer sort of duck.
131. Meryman: Did the Air Force try to call him in to go over your material at any time?
132. Ruppelt: No. At one time he did assist the Air Force. He was offered a contract to carry out part of it, but he turned it down due to his work load at school. He does go off on a tangent occasionally. He is very much interested in these green fireballs and he thinks that by making statements he is going to draw public attention to those. He has helped out a lot.
133. Bryson: What about the copper collections in the air in that area?
134. Ruppelt: I don't know. They took a sample. I don't remember anything outstanding in the conclusions. That happened in about 1948 and it is too hazy to remember. It was reviewed by a lot of people but that didn't prove much.
135. Bryson: Did they attach any significance to the high content of copper in the air?
136. Kirkland: As I remember, they didn't.
137. Ruppelt: We had this sample from Lubbock analyzed. It was just a piece of clay.
138. Bryson: Are you able to state Dr. Kaplan's opinions of this?
139. Ruppelt: No, we had rather not quote him on this.
140. Kirkland: He didn't want to be quoted because he actually doesn't know any more about it than we do.
141. Ruppelt: Actually his speculations are the same that you would make. They really aren't classified.
142. Sullivan: I think there are some things as an organization that we would be very much interested in getting from you. Our group consists of a board of ten people now, but we are going to expand that to fifteen. This will be the directing body. We are going to call in people with specialized knowledge to help us. We find a great deal of interest all over the country -- people who have pretty good technical backgrounds, who are very anxious to assist us in communities in which they live. We intend to make use of certain people as direct associates, who could correspond directly with us and who would be available to go out and check cases in their communities. We have a post office box at the main branch in Los Angeles, Box 1971. We have been very fortunate so far. True magazine carried a nice little editorial about us. Mr. Williams is one of the editors of the MIRROR and he carried a nice big story. We had a two-day story in a Long Beach paper and we are even getting letters now from people who say they heard about us over some ham radio station. The London Daily News called and they are really interested in getting a good story. The organization has taken hold in a fabulous manner and it has grown and grown and grown.
143. Williams: There seem to be a number of small groups of this nature around. We might have an open meeting at some later date and invite all these groups.
144. Kirkland: If you ever do that, let us know and we will come out.
145. Ruppelt: We first heard about you folks a couple months ago and we have been trying to get out here.
146. Nelson: Frankly, we are wondering how the hell we are going to get money to make investigations. I was wondering if we could work together, feeding information back and forth, and help to analyze it that way.
147. Kirkland: I don't see why we couldn't. I think that it would be a good idea, if you are interested. We would be happy to give you the results we get, and we would like to include all of your data in our card system. If you ever really get a big increase in volume, you will probably have to use a card system too.
148. Sullivan: Could you give us a rough breakdown of your classifications?
149. Kirkland: We have not designed a card to fit the questionnaire. I think there is quite a bit of work to be done there.
150. Sullivan: We would like to use the same classifications that you use.
151. Kirkland: If we went to IBM cards we could get a lot of things in that we don't have now I think perhaps when you see our questionnaire you will get some idea.
152. Williams: I get back to Dayton about every summer. Perhaps we could see your files.
153 Sullivan: Several of the North American men go back occasionally.
154. Kirkland: We would be happy to show you our file whenever you do come back.
155. Knoll: Are there any Air Force or other governmental agencies in town to whom we could give our communications from outside, have them photo-stated and sent to you?
156. Kirkland: I would rather see direct communication. You people are a focal point.
157. Knoll: Right now we can handle these reports personally. Later on we might not be able to.
158. Sullivan: Already we are getting letters from people asking if we are doing the same thing that the Air Force is doing. They want to know when we are going to pop with information. There is a feeling that we might put out some sort of bulletin which might even provide the funds for the post office box and other expenses later on. In that case we hope that there might be some information you could give us which we might possibly include.
159. Kirkland: I can't forecast what might come up in the future that would require additional restriction. But right now I know of nothing. The fact that we are here right now talking to you folks is a pretty good indication that the project is not too classified. I see no reason right now why you couldn't put out a bulletin. I will give you some of the things that people come up with. One thought is that some of these gadgets really could be of Russian origin. Isn't it a wonderful service that we would be providing them by telling them where we are sighting the things? As far as we are concerned now, anything is possible because we don't have the facts to believe otherwise.
160. Knoll: They are too far off their course -- even for Russians.
161. Kirkland: But I mean those are the kind of things that we have to consider.
162. Ruppelt: So, in other words, there is a possibility that they may clamp security on the project if we did find out that they are from Russia.
163. Sullivan: This could be a very very interesting association.
164. Ruppelt: Well, we will help you out all we can.
165. Kirkland: And we feel that you could be a great help to us.
166. Williams: Are you interested in current reports only?
167. Kirkland: We are more interested in current ones, but we would like to have the others too. I think they would be of value.
168. Knoll: Do you want a copy of everything we get?
169. Kirkland: Your judgement there would be involved.
170. Nelson: I would like to see us work out some sort of arrangement where our method of evaluation is consistent.
171. Ruppelt: We are not going to fool anybody in the fact that we are really going to stick to hard facts in these things.
172. Sullivan: I would like to appoint a committee to work out the method of analysis in handling these letters. Dr. Riedel will be chairman and Messrs. Knoll, Nelson and Dames will work with him.
173. Ruppelt: We can get you as many questionnaires as you want and we can probably use franked envelopes.
174. Sullivan: We have two members who are not cleared. Should we get them cleared?
175. Ruppelt: I'm afraid the only people who can get cleared are those working on an Air Force contract. We will check on this.
176. Nelson: Would it make any difference how we are organized -- whether we are a corporation, etc.?
177. Kirkland: It might. I think that is one of the things we will have to check on.
178. Nelson: There has been some feeling that we would not like to get tied up too closely with the services.
179. Kirkland: I see no reason at all why we can't work together. I think it would be very foolish if we didn't. As to how close we are and the regular relationship, that is something we can work into.
180. Ruppelt: There is another thing along that line. If you get your stuff by letter, your reports are probably a little old. If you ever get anything real "hot" and want further investigation, you can call us collect and I can go out, or send somebody out right away to check on it. You will find, I'm afraid, that this is going to develop into a full-time job. We are limited in our investigations. We have to have a pretty red hot one before we can go out and check into it. We try to check every angle and it usually takes us about a week, depending upon the sighting, of course. Operation Service has been in force for a long time now. It is a Directive to all pilots on how to report anything of an intelligence nature.
181. Knoll: The lack of response might be due to the bad publicity that the Air Force had.
182. Ruppelt: I think that is the truth.
183. Sullivan: You might be interested in the fact that Gerald Hurd is living in Santa Monica and he is making his entire files available to us. A group of us are going out to see him.
184. Ruppelt: Another interesting point, very very few people have ever reported sound with their sightings.
185. Sullivan: We have heard of a few swishes.
186. Bryson: How many radar sightings have you had?
187. Ruppelt: Say 7.5%. Oak Ridge has sent in a lot. Goose Bay, Labrador, has had them. Others have been spread out.
188. Newton: Have these two psychologists been able to make any experiments as to whether the public would repeat a report that started some place?
189. Ruppelt: When we start running tests on the general public, we are getting on thin ice.
190. Newton: Well, what I mean, for instance, was to report a red fireball and see if that would elicit any more red fireballs.
191. Bryson: Was the Arnold report the first one you ever had?
192. Kirkland: It was the first one that we had in our file. But you can pick up any number of books that tell about aerial phenomena away back in history. I know during the war many men in the service saw something that was never completely explained Personally, I don't look on this thing as starting in 1947, but it was the beginning of this project.
193. Williams: Did you ever get a report of any kind about one having landed in the Gulf of Mexico and some fishermen seeing it?
194. Ruppelt: A kid reported that. He later admitted that he made the story up to create some excitement.
195. Bryson: Did you ever get a report about one being filmed from a transport plane in Africa?
196. Ruppelt: We requested the film but it was one of those cases where we never could locate the guy who filmed it. We never did find the film. There were supposedly some movies made in Alaska. That turned out to be a hoax too.
197. Bryson: Have you been attempting to get many reports from overseas?
198. Ruppelt: These Directives of ours are worldwide. There was a big outbreak somewhere in South America not too long ago. They turned out to be hoaxes.
199. Bryson: Where have you had your biggest outbreak overseas?
200. Ruppelt: They are scattered.
201. Dr. Riedel: At a time when the Peenemunde Station was in activity, there were reports of them over Peenemunde. Then they popped up in other places -- Turkey, England, Italy.
202. Ruppelt: A peak of reports in the U.S. is usually followed by a peak of reports in other countries.
And there, somewhat abruptly, the transcript ends. The next status report, dated 30 April 1952, would start with a recounting of the time spent at CSI...
A. Briefing of the Civilian Saucer Investigations
On the evening of 2 April 1952, a civilian group who are interested in the investigation of reports of unidentified aerial objects was briefed on all of the unclassified aspects of the project. This group consists of employees of the North American Aircraft, Inc., Aerophysics Laboratory, and several non-technical persons. The organization is not, however, officially affiliated with the aircraft company. The majority of this group are qualified engineers and are working on missile developments
The purpose of the briefing was to familiarize this group with the past history and present operations of the project. It is believed that these people will possibly receive reports of unidentified aerial objects from civilian sources that might not be reported to the Air Force. They are also in contact with other civilian groups in the United States that are collecting similar reports.
Although this group is financially unable to conduct any large-scale investigations, liaison has been established so that the Air Force will be advised of any outstanding reports they receive.
B. Visit to Rand, Inc.
A group of Rand, Inc., personnel were briefed on 4 April 1952. Although Rand, Inc., is not associated with the project in any way, some of the scientists are personally interested and have been following the status of the project. After the briefing, various aspects of the project were discussed, among them the use of a diffraction grating camera to obtain the spectrum of objects that may be observed. All of the group concurred that this would be an inexpensive method of obtaining more definite data.
The status of the Rand study on the satellite rocket was also discussed.
The Rand Corporation was the world's first "think tank" -- set up by the Air Force with a $10-million endowment in 1946 and originally located at Douglas Aircraft. Its first assignment was the highly-classified "Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship." The status report then moved to on other matters...
C. Status of Diffraction Grating Camera
The status of the proposed diffraction grating camera was discussed with Dr. J. Kaplan of UCLA on 2 April 1952. Dr. Kaplan used a laboratory set-up to demonstrate how the grating will function. Suitable gratings have been found and it is believed that they can be reproduced for from $15 to $20 each. Although these gratings are not of high quality, they will be good enough to give the results that are hoped for. Tests are now being conducted to determine how inexpensive a lens can be used to give the light gathering power and definition needed to obtain a satisfactory photograph. The intensity of the full moon is being used as the standard brilliance for the tests.
Suggestions have been made for incorporating devices into the camera so that the azimuth, elevation and possibly the temperature of the source can be measured. The primary factors in determining whether or not these extra devices can be included are the cost and the fact that they will complicate the operation and maintenance of the cameras.
D. Visit of Look Magazine Reporter
On 25-26 April 1952, a representative of Look Magazine visited ATIC to obtain material for a forthcoming magazine article.
E. Status of Utilization of Radar Scope Cameras
On 21 April 1952, a letter was forwarded to Air Defense Command requesting the location of all ADC radar sites that have operational radar scope cameras and those sites that have cameras but do not yet have them operational. When this information is received, a request will be made to put all or part of these cameras on a 24-hour alert basis.
Although this will not provide definite identification of radar returns, it will aid in determining whether or not the return is due to weather phenomena, a malfunction of the set or a return from some unidentified object. A photograph of the exact size and shape of the return will then be available for study and the impression of the operator need not be relied upon.
F. Contractor Status
The contractual agreements with [Battelle Memorial Institute, blacked out on declassified document] for furnishing aid in conducting this project have been finalized. At the present time these people are formulating a standard questionnaire which will contain all data pertinent to a sighting. There have been several such questionnaires used in the past. The good points of each will be combined to give a new, more complete system of obtaining information.
G. Reaction to Life Magazine Article
On 4 April 1952, Life Magazine published an extensive article entitled "Have We Visitors From Space?" This article created great deal of interest in the subject of unidentified aerial objects. During the period of 3 April to 6 April 1952, approximately 350 daily newspapers in all parts of the United States carried some mention of the article and some mention of the fact that the Air Force was interested in receiving such reports.
It should be noted here that the conclusions reached by Life are not those of the Air Force. No proof exists that these objects are from outer space.
ATIC received approximately 110 letters in regard to the article. The letters are divided among those that offer theories as to the origin of the objects as well as those reporting objects. The letters offering theories comprise about 20 percent of the total. Although it cannot be stated that the theories are incorrect, a majority of then cannot be further evaluated since they have very little scientific basis. The letters which reported sightings comprised about 80 percent of the total. All but a few of these letters reported sighting [sic] that occurred within the last two years. The writers of these letters ranged from mystics to highly educated individuals.
All letters have been acknowledged.
It has been reported that Life Magazine has received 700 letters in in response to the article.
The next status report, dated 31 May 1952, showed no let-up in the project's sustained activity and accomplishments...
A. Briefings on Project Blue Book
On 8 and 9 May 1952, three briefings were given on Project Blue Book, in Washington, D.C. The people briefed included Secretary of Air Finletter, Major General Samford and Brig General Ackerman of the Directorate of Intelligence, Brig General Maxwell of the Research and Development Board, and members of the Office of Naval Research.
Although Lt. Ruppelt was part of a "briefing team", he would have been played a major role in the presentation, as well as fielding questions from the three generals and the Secretary of the Air Force. Nor was Ruppelt dealing with any lightweights in the representatives of the Office of Naval Research, with roots reaching back to 1923 and with world-class research and scientific programs. As to their interest, the status report continues...
C. Visit by Representative of the ONR
A representative of the Office of Naval Research visited ATIC on 28 May 1952. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the operation of Project Blue Book and to determine what aid, if any, the ONR could offer. It was decided that at the present time the Navy could best assist the Air Force by publishing some type of directive pertaining to reports of unidentified aerial objects. A liaison with the ONR was also established so that any contacts with the Navy can be expeditiously handled. (Action on the above Navy directive has been started.)
D. RCAF Interest in Project Blue Book
Two RCAF personnel, members of the Directorate of Scientific Intelligence, Defense Research Board of Canada, visited Project Blue Book at ATIC on 14 May 1952, Canada is setting up a project very similar to the U.S. Air Force project for the investigation of reports of unidentified aerial objects. The RCAF people were briefed on the operations of the project and the difficulties that have been encountered, and the proposed future plans were discussed.
Action is being taken to establish channels for communications between the Canadian and U.S. project personnel.
E. Current Directive for Reporting Sightings
On 29 April 1952, Air Force Letter 200-5, Subject: Reporting of Unidentified Flying Objects was published. This AFL states the channels to be used in reporting, types of reports to be made, and the information to be included in reports. Although this AFL has only been in effect a month, excellent results in timely reporting have already become evident.
F. Information on Balloon Releases
A large amount of detailed information on the release of weather sounding balloons has been received from the Air Weather Service. The information includes the times, locations, and types of balloons launched daily in the United States. This information has been on plotted on a map and incorporated into a card file so that it is now possible to make a rapid check of all sightings for the possibility of their being balloons.
G. Contractor Status
The civilian contractor for Blue Book has finished a tentative questionnaire to be used in interrogating observers. A great deal of time has been spent in selecting and wording of the questions. Approximately twelve engineers and scientists in varied fields have been consulted and have given their comments on the form. An effort has been made to word the questions so that they are not "leading" and so that the maximum amount of information may be obtained. An astronomer and a psychologist will be consulted next and after their comments have been received the questionnaire will be finalized.
The contractor, which is a civilian research institute, has also established a panel of twelve scientists and engineers. These people, all specialists in certain fields, can be called together at the request of ATIC to discuss any pertinent reports, questions, or problems that arise. In the past month, two meetings were held to discuss the questionnaire.
H. Diffraction Grating Cameras
This phase of the project is not being handled directly by Project Blue Book and the exact status is unavailable at the time of this report.
I. Utilization of ADC Scope Cameras
A request has been sent to Air Defense Command asking them to put all of the Type 0-15 Radar Scope Cameras on a 24-hour alert basis so that any unidentified radar returns may be photographed. These photographs, in conjunction with a special electronics questionnaire that has been prepared by ATIC, will aid in the interpretation of the electronic observations.
J. Recent "Mirage" Theories
Several theories on the possibility that some sightings can be explained as a type of mirage have been offered to ATIC. These theories have been accepted as theories, and will be investigated. More details on the ideas have been requested and as soon as they are received they will be submitted to the Blue Book civilian contractor's panel for analysis and comments.
By now Ruppelt had eight months of extraordinary effort behind him, with the payoff of new technologies and new procedures seemingly laying just ahead. As he would write in 1956...
In May 1952, Project Blue Book received seventy-nine UFO reports compared to ninety-nine in April. It looked as if we'd passed the peak and were now on the downhill side. The 178 reports of the past two months, not counting the thousand or so letters that we'd received directly from the public, had piled up a sizable backlog since we'd had time to investigate and analyze only the better reports. During June we planned to clear out the backlog, and then we could relax.
But as Ruppelt himself wrote... never underestimate the power of a UFO.
Above: Comic book version of Washington, D.C., radar-visual reports of July 19-20, 1952, as found in the files of Project Blue Book.
THERE HAD BEEN SEVEN monthly status reports issued as of the end of May, 1952 -- one for each month in which Ruppelt headed the project. Seven more months would pass before Ruppelt could issue his eighth status report -- dated 31 December 1952 -- telling what happened next...
I. OVERALL STATUS
The period since the last status report of this project was published (Project Blue Book Status Report #7, 31 May 1952) has produced a volume of reports exceeding the total number of reports received in the period 1947 to 31 Dec 51. For the month of Jul 52, the total was over 44O reports. During the period 1 Jun 52 to 31 Oct 52, the period covered by this status report, 886 reports have been received, evaluated, cross-indexed and filed. This total of 886 represents 149 more reports than had been received during the previous five-year period this project has been in existance [sic]. It should be noted that these reports are those coming through official channels to ATIC and do not include the approximately 800 letters received from the public during this period.
A noticeable increase in reports started in Jun 52 and reached a peak on 28 Jul 52 when 43 reports were received (see Appendix I). Much of the increased volume of reports can be accredited to the widespread publicity given by Life, Time, Look and many other magazines and newspapers. One noticeable characteristic of the reports is that in general the quality has improved, a factor which resulted from the distribution of Air Force Letter 200-5, Subject: "Reporting of Unidentified Flying Objects", and to wide-spread briefings given by Project Blue Book briefing teams.
In Jul 52 the workload of project personnel had risen to the point that the number of personnel was increased to a total of four officers, two airmen, and two secretaries. For a period of 45 days, a weather officer was on TDY to the project.
All reports received were screened and evaluated as soon as possible after they were received. A breakdown as to the evaluations of the reports is given below. The categories used in the evaluation of reports are as follows:
These are reports that contain relatively enough data to evaluate, but cannot be associated with any known phenomenon or object. There is a possibility that some of these reported objects or phenomena in this category could be identified if more background data on balloon tracks, aircraft movements, etc., were available.
B. Insufficient Data
This category represents reports which do not contain enough data to evaluate. A great many of the cases are due to poor reporting on the part of the reporting agency. All cases where there is only a single observer, unless his or her reliability is unquestionable, are put in this category.
This category of reports varies from those reports of objects that were definitely proven to be aircraft to those that were possibly aircraft. In evaluating reports as aircraft, a great deal of importance is put on any comments by the reporting officer about local air traffic. Another criterion is the elevation of the reported object. It has been found that if an observer sees an aircraft above a 60° angle from the horizon and is in a relatively quiet location, he can hear the sound of the aircraft. Thus all reports of moving lights at night or "shiny" objects in the daytime, moving at moderately fast speeds (i.e., in view for 2-5 minutes), and observed below 60° could be aircraft and are evaluated as aircraft. Conversely, any object that passes directly over, or within 30° of the zenith of an observer, at moderately fast speeds and if no sound is heard, is not likely to be an aircraft.
Several criteria are used to determine whether a reported object was or possibly was a balloon. Objects that are reported to hover or move very slowly could be balloons. In this type of report, the times are checked. All weather balloons in the United States are launched at 0300Z, 0900Z, 1500Z and 2100Z. If an object is reported near a balloon launch site within an hour after these scheduled launch times, it is classed as a balloon. If the object is moving and a track is reported, the track is checked against winds aloft for that area. If the reported movement is with the wind at any altitude, the object could be a balloon. Many balloons are tracked by radio and radar and in these cases, the actual track of the balloon can be correlated with the data obtained from the observers.
The possibility of observers seeing balloons that have developed slow leaks and have drifted long distances is always present. In cases where the description of the object is identical to that of a balloon and yet no balloons can be positively determined as having been in that area, the report is evaluated as possibly a balloon on the chance that a balloon has become "lost" and has drifted into the area.
Reports in this category are those that are proven to be or are similiar [sic] in all respects to known astronomical bodies such as meteors, fireballs, planets, or stars. The estimated azimuth and elevation of a reported object and the time of the observation can be checked to determine the known location of astronomical bodies. In some cases, this is done by project personnel and in more difficult cases by an astronomer.
Meteors are identified mainly by the observer's description as to size, shape, and maneuvers. In some cases, exceptionally large meteors or fireballs are plotted by observatories and these plots are obtained.
This category contains reports that have been proven to be known objects or phenomena, or the descriptions of the reported objects are similiar [sic] to reports of known objects that do not fall into the above categories. Examples of these are birds, anomalous radar phenomena, bugs, etc.
A percentage breakdown of the evaluation of reports is as follows:
Category No. Reports % Total
Unknown 57 38.77
Data 23 15.64
Aircraft 14 9.52
Balloons 22 14.96
Astronomical 22 14.96
Other 9 6.12
Unknown 93 21.04
Data 118 26.69
Aircraft 52 11.76
Balloons 107 24.21
Astronomical 57 12.89
Other 15 3.39
Unknown 34 15.59
Data 55 25.23
Aircraft 28 12.84
Balloons 70 32.11
Astronomical 22 10.09
Other 9 4.13
Unknown 22 27.85
Data 20 25.32
Aircraft 7 8.86
Balloons 12 15.19
Astronomical 12 15.19
Other 6 4.40
E. Cumulative total for June, July, August, and September
Unknown 206 23.25
Data 216 24.38
Aircraft 101 11.39
Balloons 211 23.81
Astronomical 113 12.75
Other 39 4.40
(Note: No breakdown for the month of October 1952 is included since at the time this report was written all October reports had not been evaluated.)
II. SPECIAL REPORT ON CONFERENCE WITH 44 PROFESSIONAL ASTRONOMERS
During the past summer a professional astronomer, under contract with ATIC as a consultant on Project Blue Book, held conferences with 44 professional astronomers in the U.S.A. and submitted a report of his findings. These people were either contacted on trips or at professional society meetings. Of these, 5 had observed objects or phenomena they could not readily explain. The feelings of the 44 astronomers toward the investigation of unidentified flying objects were as follows:
% Total Number
Completely Indifferent 6% 7
Mildly Indifferent 27% 12
Mildly Interested 40% 17
Very Interested 17% 8
Although the report is too lengthy to reproduce in total, an excerpt from the summary of the report is as follows:
"Over 40 astronomers were interviewed, of which five had made sightings of one sort or another. This is a higher percentage than among the populace at large. Perhaps this is to be expected, since astronomers do, after all, watch the skies. On the other hand, they will not likely be fooled by balloons, aircraft, and similiar [sic] objects, as may the general populace.
It is interesting to remark upon the attitude of the astronomers interviewed. The great majority were neither hostile nor overly interested; they gave one the general feeling that all flying saucer reports could be explained as misrepresentations of well-known objects and that there was nothing intrinsic in the situation to cause concern. I took the time to talk rather seriously with a few of them, and to acquaint them with the fact that some of the sightings were truly puzzling and not at all easily explainable. Their interest was almost immediately aroused, indicating that their general lethargy is due to lack of information on the subject. And certainly another contributing factor to their desire not to talk about these things is their overwhelming fear of publicity. One headline in the nation's papers to the effect that "Astronomer Sees Flying Saucer" would be enough to brand the astronomer as questionable among his colleagues. Since I was able to talk with the men in confidence, I was able to gather very much more of their inner thoughts on the subject than a reporter or an interrogator would have been able to do. Actual hostility is rare; concern with their own immediate scientific problems is too great. There seems to be no convenient method by which problems can be attacked, and most astronomers do not wish to become involved, not only because of the danger of publicity but because the data seems tenuous and unreliable."
III. PRESS CONFERENCE
On 29 Jul 52 a press conference was held in the Pentagon to answer the many questions that were being directed to the Air Force by the press. The conference was held by Major General John A. Samford, Director of Intelligence. Others participating were Major General Roger M. Ramey, Director of Operations, USAF, and officers of the Air Technical Intelligence Center.
In essence General Samford stated that to date there were no indications that any of the reported objects that could not be identified constitute a menace to the United States. However, the Air Force would continue to give the subject adequate, but not frantic attention.
IV. PROPOSED THEORIES AS TO THE NATURE OF THE REPORTS
Several widely publicized theories as to the nature of the reported objects or phenomena have been advanced in recent months. These theories have been discussed with authorities on the subject of atmospheric physics and they have agreed that none of the theories so far proposed would account for more than a very small percentage of the reports, if any.
V. STATUS OF STATISTICAL ANALYSIS
In the spring of 1952 the Air Technical Intelligence Center established a project with a civilian contractor to make a statistical analysis of all incidents. As of 31 Oct 52, all reports for 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, and 1951 had been reviewed and coded for IBM punch cards. By the end of October the data to date on 1952 incidents wi11 be on punch cards ready for a preliminary analysis by statisticians.
When this is completed, the contractor will begin work on the coding of the 1952 reports. No completion date has been established for this phase. It is not contemplated that the 1952 reports will be completed in the near future, because, as was stated in Section I of this report, the total for the year of 1952 exceeds the total number of reports for all previous years.
VI. TECHNICAL INFORMATION SHEET
A questionnaire or technical information sheet to be filled out by observers making a visual sighting was completed in Oct 52. Preliminary work on this questionnaire began in May 52. A panel consisting of Blue Book personnel and several civilian scientists and engineers met and drafted a list of questions whose answers would be needed in evaluating reports. These questions were then given to a panel of psychologists who reworded them and made them into questionnaire form. Test samples of these questionnaires were reproduced and sent to persons reporting sightings. As test questionnaires were completed and returned by observers they were studied by the psychologists and others. Several such test, questionnaires were developed before a final form was established. The final questionnaire is inclosed in this report as Appendix II.
These questionnaires are now being sent directly from ATIC to all persons making reports, if a mailing address is in the report. This includes both reports made by military in accordance with AFL 200-5 and reports made directly to ATIC by civilians.
VII. COOPERATION OF AIR DEFENSE COMMAND
Excellent cooperation has been received from the Air Defense Command in the utilization of their radar, fighter aircraft and the Ground Observer Corps.
ADC has directed all of their radar sites that are equipped with operational radar scope cameras to keep these cameras on a 24-hour alert basis. It has been found that scope photos are an extremely valuable aid when it is necessary to evaluate reports of extremely high speed or unusual radar tracks.
A secondary duty of the Ground Observer Corps is the reporting of unidentified aerial phenomena or objects. This duty was established by ADC Regulation 55-31.
VIII. NAVY REPORTING REGULATION
On 26 Sep 52 the United States Navy published an OPNAV very similiar [sic] to AFL 200-5. This notice directs all naval units and installations to report sightings directly to Hq USAF, ATIC, ADC, and other agencies.
IX. BALLOON AND WEATHER DATA
In order to achieve more positive identification of unidentified flying objects, the Air Technical Intelligence Center has established channels of communication with the Air Weather Service, whereby the track of any weather balloon released by the USAF, US Navy, or Weather Bureau, within the continental limits of the United States or from US ships at sea and overseas bases, can be obtained. Basically the system works as follows: If the analyst at ATIC concludes, by reason of the description of a UFO, or the time and place of the sighting, that the UFO is possibly a weather balloon, he initiates and transmits to AWS a specific request for the tracks of all weather balloon releases at or near that time and place. Comparison of these tracks with the Flyobrpt frequently completes the analysis of the report.
Additionally, the US Navy and the USAF are currently engaged in the launching of special project upper air research balloons. These balloons are plastic polyethylene, a highly reflective surface, and since they often are on the order of one-hundred feet in diameter, they are visible to the naked eye under certain atmospheric conditions, even at extreme altitudes. Further, the loads carried are usually heavy and metallic, and electronic contact with these balloons can occur. In view of this situation, ATIC has, through the Ent Weather Central, Ent AFB, Colorado, taken steps to obtain the tracks of all such balloon releases, and these tracks have often resulted in positive identification of a UFO. To cite cases in point, the tracks, of sixteen flights released in July by a US Navy contractor resulted in four positive, two probable, and four possible identifications of UFO's.
Another factor having a great deal of bearing in the analysis of a Flyobrpt, though it may not be the actual cause, is the meteorological condition of the atmosphere at the time and place of sighting. To obtain this data, the Air Technical Intelligence Center utilizes three sources. Firstly, when detailed information is needed immediately, it can often be obtained from the Base Weather Office at W-P AFB. Secondly, since ATIC receives daily RAOB's, constant pressure charts, surface charts and winds aloft charts, the necessary information is frequently on hand. Thirdly, when the data needed is voluminous and complex, and time is relatively unimportant, the Air Technical Intelligence Center utilizes the records of the Air Weather Service in exactly the same manner as that employed in obtaining weather balloon release data.
In an effort to obtain technical information concerning UFO's, ATIC has underway a program for the distribution of a large number of stereo cameras equipped with a diffraction grating over one lens. The camera in question is called the "Videon". It contains two F3.5 lenses with focal lengths of 45mm. As supplied by ATIC, the shutter speed and distance settings will be locked at l/20th of a second and infinity, respectively. The "Videon" utilizes standard 35mm cartridge film, and is extremely simple to operate.
The diffraction grating actually consists of a thin cellulose compound which contains 15,000 vertical "hairlines" to the linear inch. It is mounted between two sheets of optical glass and placed over one lens of the Videon by means of a filter adapter ring. The grating operates by precisely the same principle as a prism; it separates a light into its component parts which will appear as well defined spectrum bands upon the film. Since each chemical element emits a wave of characteristic length, and the grating, so to speak, "picks up" these characteristics and shows them as significant bands on the film, comparative study of the film is expected to reveal much data concerning the chemical composition of a given UFO. The Videon camera, equipped as described above, does not represent the epitome of scientific equipment, however, actual comparison with other models has revealed that it offers a good probability for success in accomplishing the stated purpose, and this factor, along with the economy and availability factors, was responsible for ATIC's decision to purchase and distribute those cameras.
Simultaneously with the experimentation involving ground cameras, ATIC mounted diffraction gratings over the lenses of 16mm gun cameras of F-86 aircraft of the 97th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, W-P AFB. These fighters then undertook air-air photography of known light sources, and the spectrums obtained were comparable to those obtained with the Videon; the smaller film surprisingly enough recorded equivalent definition and band separation. Therefore, as a part of the long range program, ATIC is considering the possibility of equipping certain USAF fighter-interceptor aircraft with diffraction gratings for air-air photographic coverage of UFO's.
At present, ATIC is negotiating with Hq ADC, a plan for the placement of a certain number of Videon cameras with AC&W Squadrons. Similiarly [sic], Videon cameras may be distributed to tower operators of AACS. Future plans allow for the procurement and placement of more Videon cameras and the placement of the diffraction grids in aircraft, however, these plans are entirely contingent upon the degree of success obtained in present operations.
The next status report, dated 31 January 1953, brought matters up to date as of the end of the previous November...
During the period 1 November 1952 to 30 November 1952 a total of 27 reports were received through AF channels. This total represents a decrease of 13 from the October 1952 total of 40 reports.
Time not being spent on the actual evaluation of reports is being devoted to cataloging and reviewing reports received during the summer of 1952. At the time many of these reports were received, the workload was of such a degree that they were given only quick preliminary screening.
All reports received during 1952 are being cross-indexed. The cross-indexing of all reports up to 31 December 1951 was accomplished in March 1952. The categories for cross-indexing are:
3. Type of Observation (i.e., visual, electronic, etc.)
B. Briefing Given to Personnel of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
On 23 October 1952, Col. D.L. Bower and Capt E.J. Ruppelt presented a briefing on Project Blue Book to a group of 400 scientists, engineers, and technicians at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. The briefing consisted of a brief history of the project, details of the present operations, and several recent sightings. Approximately an hour and a half was devoted to a question and answer period following the presentation of the briefing.
After the briefing, the balance of the day was devoted to a meeting with a group of people from the Laboratory who have shown a great deal of interest in the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects.
C. Briefing Given to the OSI District Commanders Meeting
The Office of Special Investigations District Commanders Meeting was briefed at Kelly AFB, Texas, on 27 October 1952. Personnel from the Current Estimate Branch of D/I, Hq USAF and ATIC presented the briefing which stressed collection, analysis methods, and current situation.
D. Proposed Changes in Air Force Letter 200-5
A proposal for changing certain sections of Air Force Letter 200-5 has been written and forwarded to the Director of Intelligence. The major proposed change in the directive is to eliminate the presently required written Air Force Form 112 and to add several items to the required wire message. If a written report is necessary in addition to the wire, it will be specifically requested by ATIC.
It is believed that by eliminating the written report, a great many manhours can be saved on an Air Force-wide, basis. In some instances, the Form 112 has merely been a repeat of the wire.
E. Status of Videon Camera
Letters have been prepared and sent to Air Defense Command and Aircraft and Air Communications Services (AACS) to obtain concurrence on the current plan to place cameras in control towers and at certain selected radar sites.
F. Contractor Status
1. Analysis of Existing Sighting Reports
Sighting reports dated up to and including June 1952 have been processed. Except for the reports dated 1947 and 1948, all sighting reports up to and including March 1952 have been evaluated. The sighting reports for 1947 and 1948 are not available for evaluation. As soon as the 1947 and 1948 reports are available and can be evaluated, all sighting reports for the years 1947 to 1951 will be ready as a group for preliminary analysis utilizing IBM equipment.
Sighting reports for the month of July 1952 have been received. Because there are 450 sighting reports for July, processing them will not be completed until the first week in December. Evaluation of reports for the months of April, May, June, and July 1952 will require about six days of conference time. Conferences for the evaluation of sighting reports will be arranged as reports become processed in groups of 200. Each group of reports will require about two days of work for a cooperating researcher Blue Book evaluation team.
The evaluation of 1952 reports will be more time consuming than was the case for earlier reports, because reports now are in more detail and often consist of sightings of one object by more than one individual.
Since October 16, 1952, it has been necessary to establish a rotation system for handling sighting reports, no more than 100 sighting reports being permitted away from Blue Book at any one time. Questionnaires and work sheets completed here must therefore be put in duplicate folders before sighting reports matching those questionnaires and work sheets are returned to WPAFB in return for unprocessed sighting reports. When evaluation conferences are held, these folders must be matched before an evaluation is made. The necessity for establishing a rotation system has caused some delay in progress.
2. Analysis of Soil and Vegetation Samples.
Two samples of vegetation and soil from Pittsburgh, Kansas, which were submitted by Blue Book for analysis have been thoroughly studied. Examination by experts on soil and vegetation disclosed no difference between the two samples from the two areas where the specimens were obtained. Tests for radioactivity likewise showed no significant difference between the two samples of soil and vegetation. Tests were made for beta, gamma, and alpha radiation. Samples of the "Kansas" soil and the vegetation will be returned to Blue Book in the near future.
3. Consultant on Astronomy
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, of the Ohio State University, attended the Boston meeting of the Optical Society of America on 11 October 1952. The Society took cognizance this year of the many reports of unusual aerial phenomena by including three invited papers on the subject in their otherwise straightforward scientific meeting. One of the invited papers was by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, entitled "Unusual Aerial Phenomena". The other two papers were by Drs. Menzel and Liddell, of Harvard Observatory and the Atomic Energy Commission, respectively.
The papers of Menzel and Liddell, though differing somewhat in content, were identical in spirit. Both papers were characterized by the fact, that, numerous explanations for unexplained sightings were given without a single reference to a specific sighting in the files of the Air Technical Intelligence Center. Both papers presented a series of well-worn statements as to how jet fighters, meteors, reflections from balloons and aircraft, and optical effects, such as sundogs and mirages, could give rise to "flying saucer" reports. Since there was nothing new in either of the two papers, the trip from this standpoint was unproductive.
The, paper by Dr. Hynek, in essence, was to the effect that flying saucers represented a science-public relations problem; i.e., when a sighting is made by several people, at least one of whom is an experienced observer, the mutually corroborated reports are entitled to a scientific hearing, rather than ridicule. It stressed the point that here was a subject in which the public has shown great interest. It was recommended that the relatively few well-screened reports be dealt with specifically to see whether any of the causes suggested by Drs. Liddell and Menzel are applicable, and, if so, to make this known in these specific instances. On the other hand, if the suggested explanations of Drs. Liddell and Menzel do not explain well-screened cases, this should also be made known and given further scientific study.
In conclusion, it was the opinion of Dr. Hynek that little was gained by attendance at the meeting. The results were negative in the sense that it was confirmed, as Dr. Hynek already believed, that Drs. Liddell and Menzel had not studied the literature and the evidence and, hence, were not qualified to speak with authority on the subject of recent sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena.
An attempt to arrange a meeting by Dr. Hynek with Dr. Menzel and Dr. Liddell, after the meeting was over, was unsuccessful because Liddell and Menzel both had to leave immediately after the meeting.
4. Interrogation Forms
Five hundred copies of the "U.S. Air Force Technical Information Sheet" (Form A and Form B) were delivered to W-P AFB on 20 October 1952. This questionnaire was used in place of the "Tentative Observers Data Sheet" to record data on all sighting reports dated after 31 March 1952. It has proved to be more satisfactory than the previous form, especially from the standpoint of recording data from sighting reports in greater detail.
Additional copies of the "U.S. Air Force Technical Information Sheet" can be supplied to Blue Book as needed.
5. Future Work
Coding and evaluation of 1952 sighting reports will continue. A preliminary analysis of data on all sighting reports dated previous to 1952 will be given to Blue Book as soon as possible after evaluation is completed of the 1947 and 1948 sighting reports.
By 10 December 1952 all sighting reports dated before 15 June 1952 should be processed and evaluated ready for IBM analysis. Complete IBM analysis of all sighting reports will not be started until all reports dated previous to 1952 are processed and evaluated. Because of the nature of the work required, and the fact that the number of reports for the last three months of 1952 is yet known, no estimate can be given as to the time final IBM analysis will begin. It is hoped, if the frequency of sighting reports follows the present decreasing trend, that complete IBM analysis for sightings dated through 1952 may be started by 1 February 1953.
With the filing of the next status report, dated 27 February 1953, Blue Book was getting caught up once more...
There has been a noticeable decrease in the number of unidentified aerial object reports submitted to this project in the period covered by this Status Report (December 1952, January and February 1953) when compared with the number submitted in the period covered by Status Report No. 9 (June, July, August, September, October and November 1952). Presently from two to three reports are received daily as compared to eight reports received daily during the period covered by the previous report.
Because of a marked decrease in newspaper publicity, fewer reports have been received from civilians with the result that military sightings now account for at least 60 percent of all unidentified object reports. In spite of the dropping of the subject by the national press, it is significant to note that a steady influx of three reports daily come into Project Blue Book from persons who sincerely believe they saw an unusual phenomenon in the sky and this is one of the main reasons why the Air Force is still continuing and taking an interest in the Project.
Three incidents which occurred in January serve to illustrate the direct effect of publicity on the number and quality of FLYOBRPTS received by the Project, During the period 21 January to 27 January, a sighting from Northern Japan near Russian-held territory, a television program involving "flying saucers", and a sighting of an unidentified aerial object by a jet pilot on the West Coast all received considerable newspaper publicity which resulted in a noticeable increase in reports at the Air Technical Intelligence Center. This is illustrated by the graph in Section X of this Status Report.
Prior to the incidents mentioned above, the quality of flying object reports continued to improve in quality and completeness even to the extent that base intelligence personnel were analyzing reports at the locale of sighting, something which Project Blue Book encourages. There was a noticeable increase in the percentage of radar sightings made during this time. However, many reports submitted as a result of the flurry of late January sightings were so incomplete that many of them had to be categorized as insufficient data. The probable reason for this is that the base intelligence officer responsible for preparing an unidentified aerial object report has lost interest in the subject due to the heavy load of low grade reports which he had to submit last summer.
During December, January, and February, Project Blue Book personnel spent a good portion of their time briefing such interested agencies as the Air Defense Command, the 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron, and the Sandia Corporation with the dual purpose of (1) general education about Project Blue Book, and (2) bettering the quality of flying object reports themselves in addition to improving channels for obtaining supporting information necessary for analysis of a FLYOBRPT.
All reports received were screened and evaluated as soon as possible after being received. A percentage breakdown as to the evaluations is given below, along with a further breakdown of sources:
15% of the total involved radar detection.
II. SIGHTINGS OVER NORTHERN JAPAN
In the last month there has been a definite increase in the number of reports received from FEAF by ATIC. They have been accompanied by some publicity in the national press. Included in the reports have been a certain number of observations from Northern Japan near Russian-held territory and for this reason they have been given a good deal of attention by Project Blue Book.
The two most publicized sightings occurred on 30 December 1952 and 9 February 1953; the first was seen by a Colonel in an F-84 over Hokkaido Island, the second by a pilot and a radar observer in an F-94 aircraft also over Northern Japan. Reports of both sightings have been received and checked by ATIC. The F-84 slighting was analyzed as a probable star since it seemed to remain on the same azimuth (270°) and elevation throughout the period of sighting. The F-94 report involves a radar contact by the radar observer with a simultaneous visual sighting of the object and cannot be explained at the present time.
Since July 1952, 16 reports of unidentified flying objects being sighted over Japan have been received from FEAF. Undoubtedly, there were numerous other observations reported to FEAF intelligence personnel which were evaluated and eliminated as known phenomena on the spot. Seventy-five percent of these sightings have been explained to the satisfaction of Project Blue Book. Of the total number of sightings from Japan, 18.75 percent involved some type of radar equipment.
III. CORRELATION OF RADIATION COUNTS
In the summer of 1952 it was reported to Project Blue Book that in the past several years there have been some instances where there existed a supposed correlation between the visual sighting of unidentified object [sic] and a rapid rise in radiation count on radiation detecting devices in areas close to the Mt. Palomar Observatory, California, and later at Los Alamos, New Mexico. In early fall of 1952 Project Blue Book began to make inquiries about these occurrences. It was found that in October 1949 such an incident had occurred at the Mt. Palomar Observatory and that the Navy had investigated. It was also learned that several times during 1950, 1951, and 1952 that same occurrence had taken place at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
A trip was made to Los Alamos and the personnel who had made a study of the possible correlation were contacted. They very graciously made their files available to ATIC personnel and a thorough check of their radiation recorder records was made. Dates of all the sudden flurries of radiation were checked against Project Blue Book files of sightings; they were checked with the local newspapers in the Albuquerque area in an attempt to pick up any sightings that ATIC did not have on file; and they were checked against pick-ups of unknown targets on radar in the Albuquerque area. In no instance could any direct correlation be found. It is possible that something was observed and not reported or at least no record of the sighting was kept. However, there is no way to check back on this.
To further inquire into the matter, the Navy report of October 1949 was obtained. It stated that on two occasions at Mt. Palomar at the same time the radiation detection devices picked up some unknown flurry of radiation personnel from the observatory observed something in the air. In one instance the object appeared similar to a bird and in another instance very similar to a formation of aircraft. The Navy made a very detailed check into the equipment and went so far as to fly aircraft over the area to determine whether or not radar or other electronic equipment in the aircraft could have caused the sudden burst of radiation. These tests were made with negative results. It was finally determined that there was a very good possibility that the sighting and the detection of radiation was merely a coincidence, that the objects were possibly birds or aircraft, and that the sudden burst of radiation was due to a malfunction of equipment or interference that is not completely understood at the present time.
The results of the investigation were reviewed by several highly qualified scientists and it was their opinion that there was nothing highly significant in the supposed correlation.
IV. CONTRACTOR STATUS
Project Blue Book has a contract with a civilian research organization which serves the project with an IBM analysis of unidentified aerial object reports and technical analysis of any specific problem submitted. As was pointed out in the last status report (status Report No. 9) coding and evaluation by the contractor of 1952 sighting reports is continuing and all reports for this year should be completely processed and ready for the IBM system by 15 March 1953. All sightings from 1947 to 1951 were submitted to a preliminary IBM analysis on 26 January 1953. This work is continuing and results of the analysis will be forwarded informally to Project Blue Book as soon as they are available.
A two-day evaluation conference between a Blue Book team and a contractor team was held on 22 and 23 January 1953 in which 145 1952 cases were given final evaluation in preparation for submission to the IBM analysis.
A rock sample was sent to Project Blue Book by a retired Lt Commander in the Navy in connection with a sighting he had made on 12 September 1952. The ex-officer, who was also a Naval flier, was convinced that the rock, which has an unusual shape, was directly associated with the flying object he observed. Blue Book asked for a contractor analysis and after close study the contractor confirmed the opinion of Blue Book that the rock merely represented a piece of common slag from an open hearth furnace.
V. BRIEFINGS GIVEN
A. Sandia Corporation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
On 6 January 1953 at 1330 hours GST, Project Blue Book personnel presented a briefing to 200 scientists and engineers of the Sandia Corporation, The briefing consisted of a short history of the project, details of present operations and recent sightings. Including the question and answer period, the briefing lasted 2 1/2 hours. The briefing was requested by the Sandia Corporation as a matter of general interest to its scientific personnel.
B. 34th Air Defense Command Division, Albuquerque, New Mexico
On 6 January 1953, the Project Blue Book briefing team met with Headquarters personnel and intelligence personnel of the 34th Air Defense Command Division, Kirtland AFB; for the purpose of briefing these personnel on Project Blue Book and also to meet scientific personnel of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. In addition to outlining a general picture of the function of Blue Book, the specific items of (1) an instrumented area for recording unidentified flying objects was discussed with the 34th, and (2) radiation correlation with unknown sightings was discussed with the Los Alamos scientists.
C. A.D.C. Officer's Call, Ent AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado
An Air Defense Command Officer's Call was briefed on 24 January 1953. The briefing consisted of a presentation of Project Blue Book's background and was slanted toward gaining the assistance of Air Defense Command organizations in the analysis of a FLYOBRT.
D. Officer's Intelligence Class, Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado
On 13 February 1955 a briefing was given to a representative officer's class of the Air Intelligence School at Lowry. Many officers graduating from this basic school will undoubtedly submit a FLYOBRPT to ATIC and such a briefing was considered highly desirable in an attempt to raise the standard of reporting.
E. Air Intelligence School Instructor's Briefing, Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado.
Since it is not feasible to brief the many classes of Air Intelligence Officers at Lowry on the requirements of Blue Book, the best compromise plan was to brief the instructor personnel of the school so that they may pass the information along to their classes. This briefing was given on 16 February 1953.
F. The 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado. On 13 February 1953, AISS was briefed and the feasibility of Project Blue Book's utilizing their field units was discussed. This organization has the responsibility, in the case of combat, of supporting the intelligence mission of the Air Defense Command by overt collection, limited field analysis and rapid reporting of air combat intelligence within the area of ADC's responsibility. Due to the combat-ready nature of the 46O2nd's mission, it is concerned mainly at the present time with training its personnel. For this reason ATIC hopes that the organization will be able to assist Project Blue Book in the rapid reporting and evaluation of unidentified aerial object reports.
Headquarters Of the 4602nd is at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and has three detachments at San Francisco, Kansas City, and Newburg, New York, which in turn have control of 14 flights spread through the Z.I. The flights are the field agencies which would do the actual collection of enemy equipment and personnel in the event that enemy aircraft fell in the United States. Project Blue Book has initiated preliminary plans with AISS to utilize personnel in these flights to investigate and analyze reports of unidentified aerial objects and it is hoped that final coordination on the plan and its implementation will come about in the near future. This would give Project Blue Book rapid first-hand information from trained intelligence officers.
VII. VIDEON CAMERA STATUS
Since the period of the last status, report, tests have been made on the camera and it has been found that the diffraction grid has disintegrated on a majority of them. The grids are slowly losing their light separating ability due to what is apparently some type of chemical decomposition. The Project's scientific contractor is attempting to analyze the difficulty and will advise ATIC of its findings.
Coordination has been received from the Air Defense Command and the Airways and Air Communications Services (AACS) to place the grid cameras in control towers and selected radar sites. This cannot be realized, of course, until the cameras are made operational.
VIII. CONTRACT ASTRONOMER
Blue Book has a working agreement with its contract astronomer whereby he reviews all sightings for possible meteor or astronomical explanations on a weekly basis.
IX. REVIEW OF 1952 SIGHTINGS
For the years, 1947 to 1952 Project Blue Book has received through military channels and analyzed over 2,500 reports. In addition, the project has received hundreds of letters from civilians. In general, the data contained in these letters are too nebulous to evaluate. Since 1 January 1952, Blue Book has analyzed over 1,000 reports received through military channels and these have been broken down into the following categories by percentages of the total reports:
Known - 1.57
Probable - 4.59
Possible - 11.95
Known - 0.98
Probable - 3.04
Possible - 7.74
Known - 2.55
Probable - 4.01
Possible - 2.64
(where explanation is not obvious) 18.51%
Insufficient Data to Evaluate 22.72%
As to the breakdown of types of sources making the report, the following figures represent percentages received from arbitrarily categorized groups:
Civilians (General - no special
qualifications that would
establish them as better than
average observers) 47.08%
USAF Pilots and Aircrew Members
(while flying) 11.02%
Airline Pilots(while flying) 2.00%
(non-airline, while flying) 4.14%
(civilian and military) 0.86%
Balloon Observers 1.00%
Engineers, etc. 3.29%
Military Personnel (general) 18.03%
Radar Returns 12.58%
Thus far the relatively limited statistical approach to unidentified objects has proceeded along only the most general trends. For example, the month of July 1952 was high with 440 sightings. Another general trend exists in the geographical location of sightings since they concentrate around Washington, D.C.; San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and San Francisco, California. Another interesting development shown by the statistical survey is that a comparatively high percentage of sightings occur during the twilight hours. The simplest explanation is that many people are out-of-doors at that time and the rays of the setting sun penetrating the upper atmosphere will reflect brightly from any reflective surface. The IBM analysis by the contractor should afford any significant trends involving shapes, sizes, estimations of velocity and altitude, course headings or characteristic maneuvers of unidentified flying objects.
Unmentioned in this report or any other was one event which would impact Blue Book for the rest of its days. In January, 1953, the CIA assembled a group of scientists to assess the Air Force effort in regard to UFOs -- under the chairmanship of CIA consultant and physicist Howard P. Robertson, with the panel now known as the Robertson Panel.
Ruppelt and Dr. J. Allen Hynek -- among others -- were interviewed and a select few cases were examined. Amongst the official conclusions of the panel was that "the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic". And amongst their recommendations, that "the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired".
It was the beginning of the end of the serious steps and innovative measures on which Ruppelt had been working for the past 14 months. Blue Book would soon be retreating into the old habits of Grudge.
But Ruppelt was told none of this, and may have remained in the dark even after leaving Blue Book. In a May, 1958, letter he wrote:
I went from Dayton to Washington and along with Brigadier General Garland, then the chief at ATIC, visited the agency that sponsored the panel meeting. We were told that the panel had recommended:
a. Project Blue Book should be expanded.
1. Specialists should be added to the staff.
2. Instruments should be set up.
b. All secrecy should be stripped from the project.
I assume that these were the written recommendations of the panel because they were being read from a piece of paper and I had heard the panel verbally agree on them a few days before.
After I returned to ATIC, General Garland told me he had discussed the recommendations with Major General Samford, then the Director of Intelligence, and that I was to carry them out.
Recommendation "a" above could not be carried out because of a lack of money and the virtual impossibility of getting civil service positions at ATIC. Secondly, there were many people who doubted the value of expanding the project. As a "next-best" move, the 4602nd AIS of Air Defense Command was tied into Project Blue Book and, in actuality, the project was quadruped in size.
The 4602nd was a new creation, responsible for "exploitation and field analysis of downed enemy aircraft and uniformed personnel" within the United States. With such situations being exceedingly rare, the interrogation of witnesses reporting UFOs along with field investigation and reporting was at least good practice for the mission of the 4602nd, while aiding the Blue Book effort. That was the theory, at least -- and perhaps a good one, had Blue Book not been mortally wounded by the recommendations of the Robertson Panel.
But as shown in his later letter, Ruppelt was unaware of the coming shift in the winds...
...even as he prepared to begin a new series of briefings on Blue Book to Air Defense Command.
Above: January, 1953, featurette in Mechanix Illustrated magazine. The picture had been released by the Air Force some months before. The caption read, "Flying Saucer Camera will be used by Air Force to clear up saucer questions. One lens takes regular picture; the other separates light into colors so scientists can judge the source and make-up of saucers."
In the next status report, dated 31 May, 1953, it was noted...
In the fall of 1952 ATIC and the ADC agreed upon a plan whereby ATIC's Project Blue Book would brief all interested units in ADC on its operations. On 9 March 1953 the Western Air Defense Force was briefed; on 10 April 1953 the Central Air Defense Force was briefed; and on 8 May 1953 a Project Blue Book briefing was given to the Eastern Air Defense Force.
Before this, a "standard" briefing script had been prepared and used in various briefings. But for his March 9th appearance, Ruppelt lined out some of the standard text (included below in brackets, with lined-out text included in green). In other parts Ruppelt added hand-written notations (included below in brackets, with hand-written text italicized in red). As far as is known, it was the last briefing given by Ruppelt in his time at Blue Book -- and may represent his last public speech on the topic, ever.
And so, without further ado, our speaker tonight, Edward J. Ruppelt...
PROJECT BLUE BOOK
BRIEFING FOR AIR DEFENSE COMMAND
This briefing has been prepared specially for Air Defense Command units. Its purpose is to present all aspects of Project Blue Book so ADC personnel will have a better understanding of the, goals of the project, be able to more accurately evaluate reports of unidentified flying objects, and increase the quality of those reports that are forwarded.
[50% of U.A.O. forward to ATIC come from ADC units. 150, 1953 reports 70 from A.D.C.]
A copy of this briefing will be given to each ADC unit and should be given wide distribution.
As you have been told, this briefing is about Unidentified Flying Objects or "flying saucers" if you insist. We don't like the name "flying saucers" and only rarely use it because it seems to represent weird stories, hoaxes, etc., sort of a joke.
We don't take "flying saucers" too seriously either, but we do take the problem of Unidentified Flying Objects seriously. The definition of an Unidentified Flying Object is any air borne object that by performance, aerodynamic characteristics or unusual features does not conform to any presently known type of aircraft or missile, or which cannot be identified as a known object or phenomenon.
The mission of the Air Defense Command is such that you are in a position to be recipients of the best reports of Unidentified Flying Objects. For that reason this briefing is being presented today. Three main points will be covered in this briefing.
a. The general aspects of Project Blue Book to clear up any misconceptions that anyone may have.
b. How reports can be evaluated in the units.
c. How to increase the quality of reports that are forwarded.
First of all I would like to tell you about the security of this project. The majority of the information is currently being carried as Restricted. This is merely to protect the names of the people who have given us reports, it is not any attempt to cover up any information that we have. The required security classification for admittance to this briefing is Secret, however. The reason for this is that in some instances we may get into a discussion of classified equipment, classified locations, or classified projects during the question and answer period that follows this briefing. When the project was first started, it was classified as Top Secret. This is probably the reason for the rumors that the Air Force has Top Secret information on this subject; it does not. The only reason for the original classification was that when the project first started the people on the project did not know what they were dealing with and, therefore, unknowingly put on this high classification.
We release all information to the press that they ask for, except the names of persons involved in the sighting, methods used to obtain information when this involves intelligence methods and anything else such as locations of radar sites, types of radar sets, performance of aircraft, etc., that may be classified.
The Air Technical Intelligence Center
Many people are not familiar with the Air Technical Intelligence Center. The Air Technical Intelligence Center was at one time part of Air Materiel Command, however, in mid 1952 the command was changed and it is now a field activity of the Directorate of Intelligence, Headquarters Air Forces Air Force. Our chief, Brigadier General Garland, is directly responsible to Major General Samford, the Director of Intelligence, Headquarters USAF. The prime function of the Air Technical Intelligence Center is not to investigate "flying saucer" reports, it is charged with the prevention of technological surprise by a foreign country. This means that all enemy aircraft, guided missiles, etc., and any equipment related to these articles, is studied at the Air Technical Intelligence Center.
[Project Blue Book - 4 officers, 2 (airmen), 2 stenos as compared to 800 people in ATIC. - ATIC's scientists help us. Also contractors.]
ATIC "gets into the act" not in an attempt to protect the United States, that is the function of ADC. Our function is to tell you what you're protecting against. If Russia, for example, flew some totally unheard of new type of aircraft across the California coast, you would go up to intercept then ATIC would begin a study to tell you what you had intercepted, so that if you run into this aircraft again you'll know more about it. To come more to the point, let's use any Unidentified Flying Object. Say, for example, one of your radars picks up a target traveling 1500 mph, fighters are scrambled, vectored into the target, they see a light and chase it. If they don't intercept the light and identify it, it is unknown. ADC has accomplished their mission by attempting an intercept. It is now the mission of the intelligence officer to gather all the facts on the incident and forward them to ATIC to be studied. [If in collecting the facts the intelligence officer identifies the reported object, fine, it is no longer an unidentified object and we are not interested. However, if he is not able to identify the reported object, a complete report shall be forwarded. It may be that the radar picked up some type of weather effect and vectored the aircraft toward it. About that time, the pilots saw an exceptionally bright star and gave chase. It has happened more than once. If we knew that every "light" that couldn't be intercepted was a star there wouldn't be any necessity for this project, but unfortunately that is not true. If the light hadn't been a star, we would very well want every scrap of information we could get and, as far as anyone knew, until the report was investigated, it was not a combination of a freak radar return and a star.] ATIC's mission is not quite finished with an explanation. We'd like to know enough about the appearance of some of the more frequent objects that are reported, so if a real article even appears it can be immediately recognized. If the "whistle should ever blow" and someone sees two streaks of fire in the sky, which one is a slow-moving meteor and which one is a ram-jet powered missile? Possibly we can learn enough from your reports to be able to definitely point out the difference.
History of the Project
To give you a brief history of this project, it started in 1947, when on 24 June 1947 a Mr. Kenneth Arnold sighted several disc-like objects near Mt. Rainier in the state of Washington. From that time until August 1949, 375 reports were collected and analyzed. In August 1949, a report was written on these 375 incidents and it was concluded that all sightings were due to:
a. Mass hysteria or war nerves.
b. Hoaxes or persons seeking publicity.
c. Psychopathlogical [sic] persons.
d. Misinterpretation of known objects.
These conclusions have been given a great deal of study and it is now concluded that the vast majority of the reports received are not due to hysteria, war nerves, hoaxes, publicity seekers, psychopathlogical [sic] persons, etc., but they are reports made by persons who have definitely seen something that they themselves could not explain at the time of the sighting and have very sincerely made their report to the Air Force. This does not mean that these reports could not have been misinterpretations of known objects, as not all of us are familiar with the many different ways known objects can appear under various conditions.
In the Summer of 1951 the project was reviewed at the request of Headquarters USAF and Project Blue Book was established. Between 1949 and 1951 the project had not been dropped, but it was being carried on a low priority basis. The reason for the renewed interest in the project was that between 1949 and 1951 very little publicity had been given this subject, however, reports continued to come in. These reports were mainly from military personnel, and could be classed as good reports. I would like to stop here a minute and explain what we mean by a good report. To us, a good report is one in which several people were involved and the motives of these people in making the report cannot be questioned. They have made comparatively careful observations and have reported everything that they observed. Very few, if any, of the reports in ATIC files could be classed as an excellent report, since everyone is familiar with the frailties of human powers of observation and with the necessity for obtaining readings by instruments to get exact calculations.
After reorganization of the project in the summer of 1951, reports continued to come in at the rate of about ten a month. In the spring of 1952 there was an increase in the number of reports and they hit a peak of 70 per day in July 1952. At the present time they have dropped off to about five a week. There is no doubt that the emphasis placed on this subject by the press caused this big up-sweep in reports.
It can be stated now that as far as the current situation is concerned, there are no indications that the reported objects are a direct threat to the United States nor is there any proof that the reported objects are any foreign body over the United States or, as far as we know, the rest of the world. This always brings up the question of space travel. We have gone into this with many people and it is the opinion of most scientists or people that should know that it is not impossible for some other planet to be inhabited and for this planet to send beings down to the earth. However, there is no, and I want to emphasize and repeat the word "No", evidence of this in any report the Air Force has received. [I would like to go back over that once more for the sake of the record. We have no evidence in any of our reports that the earth is being visited by any people or beings from outer space.]
We have arrived at the conclusion that these reported objects are no direct threat to the United States for several different reasons. One, we have never picked up any "hardware". By that we mean any pieces, parts, whole articles, or anything that would indicate an unknown material or object. We have received many pieces of material to be analyzed but in every case there was no doubt as to what this material was.
We have photographs of some unusual things, but in all of those that show any amount of detail, there is a varying amount of doubt as to their authenticity. Still photographs are very easy to fake, without retouching the negative. Our files contain many photos that were submitted in good faith. Some have turned out to be flaws in the negative, light flares or photos of some relatively rare known natural phenomena. We have some that cannot be readily explained since they are merely "blobs" of light and could be various things. None of the photos on file that cannot be explained show any detail in the object or are cause for any undue speculation.
We have made a statistical study of the data that we have collected in order to attempt to determine whether or not there is any common pattern in the sightings but we have had no success in finding any such pattern. The statistical study made by ATIC was made on cross-index cards with 16 items, such as a reported shape, a reported direction, color, etc., being cross-indexed in an attempt to find a pattern, but we found none. In order to make a more detailed study, and since it is very difficult to handle 3,000 reports on cross-index cards, an IBM study is now being made. [In this study approximately 80 items will be placed on the IBM cards. These items will be cross-correlated and any patterns should be apparent. This has not yet been completed. The results we will obtain will possibly help us in the future planning for the project.]
A Few Statistics
Two points that are of interest but are not in themselves greatly significant are plots of the distribution of our unknown sightings and a plot of the frequency of reports. A definition of the term "unknown" will be given later.
(Slide of Location of Unknowns)
You will notice that the unknown reports do tend to cluster around critical areas in the United States. One explanation might be that the people in these areas are aware of the fact that they are in a critical area and are more aware of unusual things.
(Slide on frequency of Reports)
A plot of the frequency of reports shows a series of peaks in July of each year. We cannot account for this. Some people have offered the explanation that there is better weather in July, more clear skies. We have checked this and there seems to be no correlation; other months also have clear skies. The fact that July nights are warmer and more people are outdoors has also been advanced, this doesn't appear to have any bearing on the problem either.
You might be interested in a breakdown of our reports for 1952. In breaking down these reports, we use several degrees of certainty under each category. We'll take balloons, for example. We will classify them as a known balloon, a probable balloon, or a possible balloon. A known balloon means that we were definitely able to correlate the facts of the sighting with the data on a balloon track and there is no doubt that the object was a balloon. Probably a balloon means that we were not able to correlate all the data, but there is no doubt in our minds but what the reported object was a balloon A possible balloon is where we check the report with balloon data and cannot find a correlation yet we still believe the object was a balloon. [This factor accounts for "lost" balloons, that is, balloons that may have developed slow leaks and floated great distances. In all our categories of balloons, aircraft, and astronomical bodies, we use three breakdowns.]
(Slide showing Breakdown of Conclusions)
In analyzing 1021 reports for 1952, and those are reports that have been received through military channels and do not include several hundred reports from civilians direct to ATIC, the following is the breakdown of conclusions as of 22 Dec 52:
Astronomical Bodies 11.76%
(Ducks over drive-in movies, searchlights on clouds, etc.)
Hoaxes [low with ----->] 1.66%
Radar (Explanation not proven) 6.84%
Insufficient Data to Evaluate 22.72%
This leaves a balance of 20.1% of the reports which are classified as unknown. At this point, a definition of the term "unknown" is in order. Usually there is more than one source or observer. Again, this does not mean that just because a person is alone, sees something he cannot explain to himself and reports it, his account of what he saw is laughed off. Normally one person just cannot supply the necessary data. For this reason, we dwell more on reports where the data can be substantiated by others. To go a step further, in a report we classify as unknown there can be no doubt as to the reliability of the persons making the observation. If the report contains a relatively good amount of data, it is then checked against the location of known objects, phenomena, etc. If none of these explain the sighting, it is classed as unknown. It might well be that if we had more data on the sighting, it could easily be explained.
[(Slide of Locations of Unknowns)]
[As you will note on this slide we have plotted all of our reports we classify as "unknown". They tend to concentrate around Albuquerque, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and San Antonio, with Albuquerque presenting the greatest area of concentration. It may be that the people there are more aware of the vital nature of their industry and are more alert to report things they see in the air.]
Why Continue The Project?
[The question now arises, "If most of these reports can be explained, why continue the project?"] I might state now that the project will be continued and the subject will continue to be treated seriously. There are several reasons why the project will be continued.
a. There are reports we cannot explain. We believe we can explain all but about 20%, but if you noted the breakdown of conclusions, we only can positively identify about 7%. With the world situation what it is and with the present advances in science, it behooves the Air Force to have a system whereby they can receive reports of, evaluate, and determine the identity of objects reportedly flying over the United States.
b. There is no assurance that at some future date some foreign power could not develop some object that by present day standards is unconventional in appearance or performance. Due to the fact that the term "flying saucer" has become almost a household word for anything that cannot be identified as a conventional object, it might be reported as a flying saucer. The Japanese paper balloons of World War II are an example of this.
c. The third reason is related to the first. The Air Force is responsible for the aerial protection of the United States. It is our responsibility to assure ourselves and the public that these continuing reports, and we believe they will continue, are not a threat.
[Operation of the Project] [AFL 200-5]
To give you a little better idea of the project, I would like to tell you how we operate. Air Force Letter 200-5 is the basis for our operation. It states that the Air Technical Intelligence Center is responsible for analyzing all reports of unidentified flying objects and that each Air Force unit is responsible for forwarding reports that they receive to the Air Technical Intelligence Center. It further states that all reports will be forwarded by wire then followed up within three days by a written AF Form 112. [If AF Form 112's are not available, the report can be made in letter form.] [Hereafter only TWX and ATIC will ask for 112 if it seems sight important enough.] Note in Side Margin: [WADF: 100 reports per month not from (Illegible) because they are just "flying saucer" reports.] This reporting requirement in AFL 200-5 does not mean that the officer receiving the report from the source or the observer does not have the prerogative to make his own evaluation and determine whether or not the observation is worth forwarding. He may do this in two ways. He may be able to identify the object, if he does, it is no longer an unidentified flying object, and therefore, does not have to be forwarded. Secondly, he may evaluate the report according to source and content and determine that it would be of no value as far as analysis is concerned. To break this last point down further, the officer receiving the report may believe the source is of doubtful character or it may be obvious that the source did not make careful, observations. In general, a report from only one inexperienced observer is not too helpful. [You should jot down the source's name, address & phone # in any event.] [This is not because we doubt the observer's word as to what he saw; it is because most people have difficulty estimating time, angles, relative size, etc. If several people make an observation their estimates can be arranged and the results are a little more accurate. It is a good idea, however, to at least note the name and address or telephone number of such sources since it might be that their observation would tie in with others and it would necessary to contact them again.] [In short, the preparing officer should try to determine the cause of the sighting himself at the base level with the check; will go into in a minute on balloons, etc., etc.]
[Very probably some of you have forwarded reports of unidentified flying objects to ATIC and have wondered what happened to them. Project Blue Book is set up to receive and analyze all such reports. The T.O. calls for 4 officers, 2 airmen and 2 civilians. Like any other organization, the actual strength fluctuates. In addition to these full-time personnel, the Center has many specialists, mostly engineers in many fields, and these people are called upon to aid in analysis as they are needed. To supply people with specialties not available at ATIC, ATIC a contract with a large research organization which employs people in many fields. These include physicists, nuclear physicists, metallurgists, psychologists, an astronomer, and almost any other field you can name. These people can be called upon if they are needed. The astronomer is frequently consulted.
In going over the operation of Project Blue Book, I will tell you how we check reports. You can use these same processes to make your own evaluations and as was state before, if you are, convinced that the object was a conventional object, don't forward it as an unidentified flying object. To be very frank about this subject, ATIC receives many reports that are obviously known objects. This only clogs up channels of communication and at times has approached being serious. It is obvious that the intelligence officer or the person preparing the report did not make any effort to determine whether or not there were any balloons in the area, etc. We realize that in some cases a wire was sent immediately upon receiving the report like "shoot and then ask questions." This is the only way to proceed if the report looks "hot". However, in many other cases there was plenty of time between the time of the sighting and the time the wire report was sent to pick up a phone and check with the tower, CAA radio, the weather stations, radar, etc.
Evaluating the Source
As in all intelligence matters, the source is extremely important. We know psychology is a strong element in this project. Although we maintain that almost everyone who reports actual has seen something, at times they unconsciously let their imagination twist the facts. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to set down any rule to use in evaluating a source. Sometimes you can talk to a person and learn that they are very imaginative. We go a lot on the person's background, age and sex. An airline pilot may see a vapor trail but to a housewife it is a flying saucer, possibly enhanced by the fact that she just read "Amazing Stories". This does not mean all housewives are poor sources, but category for category, commercial airline pilots are more reliable than housewives simply because they have seen a larger variety of things in the air and are naturally more prone to be conservative in reporting.
When we receive a report, the first thing that we check it for is the possibility of its being a balloon, aircraft or astronomical body because these three objects give us the most trouble. To go into each of them a little more specifically, we will start with balloons.
There are two different general categories of balloons. One is the research type balloon. These balloons vary in shape and size and are released from various points in the United States depending upon what projects are being conducted and are not launched at any scheduled time. They may be small like weather balloons, they may be clusters of these weather balloons, or they may be large polyethylene balloons that are 100 ft. in diameter. With the present emphasis on cosmic ray study many different types of balloons are being launched in the United States.
[& Balloon Tracks]
The other category is the regularly launched weather balloons. These are launched from known locations in the United States at definite times. Project Blue Book gets data on the large research type balloons either through Hq ADC or, if necessary, direct from the launching agency. Due to the nature of this problem, ATIC is familiar with most of the agencies in the country who are launching research balloons and can go directly to these people to get information on their balloon tracks.
It is possible that now or in the near future your division or Force will get data on all launches of research type balloons. It is definitely worth a try to contact the division or Force. If they do not have the tracks, they may know of a launch program. Normally these large balloons travel great distances and it may be difficult to get data without going to Hq ADC.
On the regularly scheduled weather balloon launches, Blue Book has data on all launch sites and knows the approximate time of launch each day. We have the authority to go directly to these stations to obtain data on their balloons or, if the time element is not critical, to go through Air Weather Service to get it from their central files. Fortunately, many of these balloons are tracked, either by radar or by radio DF and it is possible to get the exact tracks of the balloons.
These balloons are scheduled to be launched at 0300Z, 0900Z, 1500Z and 2100Z each day [from 400 different air bases (A.W.S) PAA stations, Naval Air stations,] but can be launched plus or minus 30 minutes of this time. Nearly every airbase and civilian airport servicing a scheduled airline releases some type of weather balloon, either the small pibal that is tracked visually or the instrument carrying type that is tracked by radio or radar. Although these balloons can develop a slow leak and float for long distances, they normally will not get more than 30 miles from their release point. To be safe use a distance of 50 miles.
If you get a report of an object you believe to be a balloon, check with your weather officer [at A.W.S.] He will know what stations in your area launch balloons and from the general wind conditions at the time of the sighting tell you where the balloon probably came from. You can then get the plot of balloon tracks and definitely establish whether the object was a balloon. If there are several launch locations in your area, you may have to check them all. Many times a call to the unit launching the balloon will suffice as they can tell you the location of their balloon at a given time.
(Slide of "Weather Balloon Launch Sites)
Balloons do not give us any trouble when they look like balloons, it is when they don't look like balloons that they give us trouble and they can take on many odd appearances. In the daytime a balloon will appear to be a very bright star in the sky. What is happening is that the sun's rays are diffusing into the balloon and causing it to glow. Under ideal conditions a balloon can be seen as high as 90,000', but under more adverse conditions a balloon possibly cannot be seen over 4,000' to 6,000'. It depends a great deal on the haze. During the daytime a balloon at very high altitude will appear to be stationary or traveling very slowly. At night balloons that are lighted will appear to be a radically moving light. This light may even appear to change color, due to atmospheric conditions. The balloon will change direction with wind and will appear to be on a jerky, zig-zaggy course. Since most people observing these balloons do not have any reference point in the sky, the balloons appear to be moving very much faster than they really are. At dawn or dusk a balloon can appear to be a fiery red, circular shaped object in the sky. The reason for this is that the balloon is picking up the slanted rays of the sun, exactly the same as a cloud will pick up the sun's rays in a sunset. It may be that if the balloon is high enough, it can be dark on the ground but it will be sunset at altitude.
Some balloons carry radar reflectors or metallic loads capable of giving a radar return. The clue to this is that they will be traveling with and at the same speed as the wind at their altitude.
Aircraft, as aircraft, do not give us a great deal of trouble, it is when they are high and reflecting sunlight or leaving a vapor trail that they are most often misrecognized. Similar to the situation with balloons, a vapor trail will appear to glow at dawn or dusk. Many times the aircraft leaving the vapor trail cannot even be seen, however, the vapor will appear to be a bright fiery red streak of flame in the sky. Formations of aircraft reflecting the sunlight can very often appear as a formation of disc-shaped objects. At times the reflection will suddenly diminish causing the objects to look like they were either moving rapidly out of sight or just disappearing.
ATIC does not have a satisfactory system for checking aircraft. This is because Flight Service and CAA does not keep a permanent record of aircraft flights very long after the aircraft has landed. Therefore, it is up to the officer receiving the report from the observer to thoroughly check aircraft movements immediately. He may check these through the control tower, through Flight Service, through CAA radio stations, or many various nays, but he should check thoroughly to see whether or not there were any aircraft flights in the area of the sighting.
As far as astronomical bodies are concerned, ATI-C has a professional astronomer under contract, to review sightings that they believe to be caused by astronomical bodies. By astronomical bodies we mean bright stars, planets, or meteors. The most valuable information in the analysis of an unidentified flying object that is suspected of being an astronomical body is the bearing, the azimuth, and the time. From this we can check back through almanacs and determine the locations of certain bright stars. Stars that give us trouble are Venus, Jupiter, Capella and several others. You can check stars by obtaining the approximate time, azimuth and elevation of the reported object and grabbing the nearest navigator.
Meteors are not too difficult to evaluate because they seem to have a standard description. If someone reports an object similar to a rocket going across the sky at high speed and leaving a trail behind it, chances are it is a meteor. However, in certain instances we have had very unusual meteors reported. We have found that there are certain classes of meteors that astronomers call fireballs. These are so rare that there is a good chance that you may see only one in your life, if any. This has probably accounted for many reports by pilots who state that they met a huge ball of fire coming directly at their aircraft and at times have even racked up the aircraft to get out of its path. Many times these are reported as missiles. We have had pilots who have complained to the Air Force about shooting rockets, or experimental missiles, through the airways and endangering their aircraft. This is a rather foolish statement, however, when you get to thinking about it. One, if a missile appeared anywhere outside the proving grounds chances are it would be enemy. However, if you have studied missiles you will note that the burning time, or the time before fuel cut-off, is only a relatively short period during the missile's flight. If we would say, hypothetically, a rocket was shot from some foreign country into the United States, chances are very good that the fuel shut-off point would have come long before the rocket ever reached the United States and it would not be emitting a flame.
You can check meteors by looking for accounts of them in the newspaper, or consulting local astronomers.
Other Causes of Reports
Naturally balloons, aircraft and astronomical bodies do not account for all the sightings. We have a smaller percentage of other things, such as ducks flying over drive-in theaters at night, searchlights on clouds, blimps, pieces of paper caught in an updraft, and many other things that cause reports. These are very difficult to check and to check them we normally go back to old sightings. For example, sometime back, approximately a year ago, the city of Fargo, North Dakota, was somewhat disturbed by glowing objects that flew over the city on various nights. Finally, some of the more enterprising souls in the city took enough interest in the subject to attempt to determine what they were. All it was were flocks of ducks or geese reflecting the city's lights. We will take a case like this and mentally file it. When we come across a similar report, we'll go back and compare the two reports. If they are similar enough, we will write the new report off as being the same thing. This is about the only method we have of checking such things.
Since ADC has the vast majority of the radar that is operating 24 hours per day, we receive many reports from them. ADC Regulation 200-5 covers such reporting. This regulation states what information is to be forwarded. ATIC uses a very similar questionnaire. It was designed after the one in ADC Regulation 200-5, but contains a few more items.
We receive quite a few radar sightings and we are well aware of the fact that weather and interference between two radars can cause weird effects. Our problem is to determine methods of more positively establishing the cause of certain effects and even being able to predict when these effects may be more noticeable. Naturally, you people are also very much interested in this.
We understand that ADC has already published their latest material on how to check for interference and weather, so I will not go into this.
When reporting a radar sighting, the weather data are extremely important. Plots of the temperature and moisture vs. altitude should always be reported.
There are no reports of radar sightings in our file whose authenticity cannot be questioned to some degree. In none of the cases of erratic or high speed (above Mach 1) that we have on file can it be shown that the track was actually that of a material object. One rare exception to this is when radars have happened to track meteors. More of our unknown high speed tracks might be meteors but unless we get reports of a meteor track to correlate with the radar track, it is difficult to separate out these reports. Lightning is another possibility but a very vague one.
Radar Scope Photos
A large-number of Air Defense Command radar stations are equipped with radar scope cameras. ADC Regulation 200-5 authorizes the use of these cameras for photographing abnormal returns. These scope cameras should be ready to operate at all times since scope photos are an absolute necessity for the accurate evaluation of reports involving radar. In addition, they give valuable data for the study of weather and interference effects.
Simultaneous Radar Visual Sightings
Reports of simultaneous visual reports that supposedly correlate with unusual, high speed or erratic radar tracks, with the rare exceptions of meteors and lightning, are a different story. No presently known phenomena or condition will give this situation. If it can be shown that the object sighted visually and the radar track are the same, the report warrants a detailed investigation. [So far, this has not happened in any of our unknown cases.] We have good reports of simultaneous visual-radar sightings [of U.A.O.'s] but again there are always factors that shed varying degrees of doubt as to whether or not the observations involved the same object.
The first factor in establishing a correlation is to check the flight path or location of the visually observed object with that shown on radar. If this correlates closely the next step is to establish that the time was the same, sometimes a difficult task. Other checks can also be made but these two are basic.
Other Simultaneous Sightings [- triangulation]
Any report of an object seen from two separated locations is relatively important. These include two locations on the ground, from the ground and air, etc. Of these, the best way to gather very accurate data is to utilize two theodolites or a theodolite combined with a plain visual sighting. The use of a theodolite is considered an instrumented observation. For those who are not familiar with the term a theodolite is a device for accurately measuring the azimuth and elevation angles during weather balloon flights. Nearly every air base and large civilian airport has one. It can be put into use by merely calling the weather station and requesting that they try to observe the reported object. The data needed are the time, elevation, and azimuth at one minute intervals for as long as the object is in view or for at least 20 minutes if it appears to be hovering. If an adjacent air base can be contacted and requested to do the same, preferably at the same time, you've hit the jackpot as far as good data are concerned.
[No] [(Show Triangulation Slide)]
Cross Check With The GOC
Another ready source of possible information that may shed some light on a report of an unidentified flying object is the Ground Observer Corps. The GOC can be used in two ways, they may make reports and they can cross-check reports.
If one GOC post calls in a report as they are directed to do in ADCR 55-31 a nearby post can be contacted by the filter center to see whether they can see the reported [sic]. If they can, there is a beautiful set up for triangulation. The observers can estimate the elevation and azimuth. Posts equipped with angle measuring devices could make very accurate readings.
If a report should come in from a source other than the GOC, they could be contacted and possibly identify the reported object. It might be that they have seen and positively identified a balloon, meteor, or aircraft, while a pilot flying in the area observed the object from a different angle and could not make an identification.
Summary on Report Evaluations
It would be impossible to give you all the checks that can be made on reports since each report requires a different approach. I've given you a few ideas and you can undoubtedly think of more. One thing we do ask is that when you make a check on a report you obtain enough data to substantiate your conclusion. Just because someone reported four objects near a city and there were four aircraft in formation near the same city, don't quickly assume they were one and the same. Get some information on the location of the reported object, the time and course, then check this against the flight of the aircraft. If it correlates to a reasonable degree, they were very probably the same thing.
[(Slide Showing Possible Checks)]
If, during an investigation of a sighting, after a TWX has been sent reporting the incident, the investigating officer should identify the reported object, ATIC should be immediately notified as to the solution.
Many theories have been advanced that all of the reports are due to mirages, sun dogs, ice clouds and what-have-you. Some of our reports are caused by such things. We have received excellent photos of sun dogs and descriptions of mirages. These are definitely in the minority, however, and cause only a small percentage of the sightings.
Another popular solution is that all "flying saucers" are "skyhook" balloons. To check this a study of about   cross-country balloon tracks were made. To remove any doubt, the tracks were taken of flights made during July and August 1952 when reports were coming in at the rate of 50 per day. These balloons were seen and reported as "flying saucers" at only  points.
(Slide - show typical balloon tracks)
[We are continually being asked, "What information do you want in a report?" This is a rough question because each report is unique in that questions will come up that have never been encountered before. There are, however, certain times that pertain to every sighting these are briefly listed in AFL200-5, but are not given in any great detail.
Two types of reports are required by AFL 200-5, a report by wire and a written report on AF Form 112. The wire report should just contain enough data to give a description of the sighting and the source. This includes the date, location, description of the object, its apparent course, and the source's name and occupation. Any other details that will help clarify the sighting should be reported.
To aid the intelligence officer in collecting data for the written report, Blue Book has compiled lists of questions that pertain to nearly every sighting. These questions have been arranged in the form of a questionnaire. Two questionnaires, one for radar and one for visual sightings, have been completed and are now in use. Two others, one for sightings made from the air and one for general background data, are in the process of being developed. Those questionnaires are designed to require a minimum amount of work on the part of the intelligence officer and will insure that all available data are included in the report.
The Ground Observers Datasheet (presently called USAF Technical Information Sheet) is to be filled out by the observer. It can be handcarried [sic] or mailed. The "Electronics Data Sheet" is to be filled out by the intelligence officer at the AC&W Squadron with the assistance of a technician, if he is not a technician. The "Aerial Observer's Data Sheet", that will be published soon, is to be filled out by the pilot of the aircraft from which the observation was made. The forthcoming "Supporting Data Sheet" will be filled out by the intelligence officer making the report.
These questionnaires have been made up after a great deal of study. Approximately a year ago, ATIC arranged to have a group of scientists and professional people to design a questionnaire. These people studied all questionnaires that had been previously used in this project, they studied our file of sightings, and arrived at a tentative version of our present questionnaire. This tentative questionnaire was used for a period of approximately three months, the results analyzed, revisions made, and a final questionnaire was made up.
AFL 200-5 specifies that the written report be submitted on an AF Form 112 and that certain data be included. The questionnaires cover all the required data. To comply with the requirement for submitting a Form 112 the questionnaires may be attached as inclosures using Part A of the Form 112 as a cover sheet or letter of transmittal. Doing this saves a great deal of typing on the 112.
Extra copies of these questionnaires should be available soon. It has been tentatively agreed that they will be distributed through ADC channels.
To further aid in reporting, a manual "How to Make Flying Object Reports" will soon be distributed.
We hope that by using the questionnaire and guidance material that is furnished to intelligence officers, the quality of the reports will improve. Some reports are satisfactory but very few contain enough data to make a good analysis. Many highly qualified scientists have reviewed our files of reports in the past two years and they always comment on the fact that additional data were available and should have been reported.]
Be Sure to Include Angles
One item that is habitually left out of reports is the position of the object in the sky. If a person is familiar with the location of stars, such as a navigator or an astronomer, he can locate the path of the object relative to these bodies. An easier way, however, is to use angles. The elevation and azimuth at the point of initial sighting and at the point of disappearance can be given. A short word description can describe the flight path between the two points.
A pilot observing a light in the sky while he is airborne can establish its position by pointing the nose of the a/c toward it, reading his compass, and estimating the elevation while flying straight and level. When reporting any angle, it should be stated whether it is true or magnetic.
[You may have heard about a camera that has been modified for use on this project. At the present time, we have 100 of these cameras. They are a commercial model stereo camera with one lens fitted with a diffraction grating. The grating serves as a prism to separate the light source into its various components. Any light source that is made up of an element or combination of elements has a distinctive spectrum. This spectrum is similar to a finger print. A file of the spectra of known objects, stars, meteors, etc., is being assembled and this file spectra can be compared to the spectra obtained from photos from the cameras. These cameras will be placed in control towers and a few selected radar stations throughout the United States. We are halving some difficulty with the gratings on these cameras, however, and consequently have not put them out in the field. The grating is el rather touchy piece of equipment and we are having trouble getting it to stand up under certain conditions.
We realize that this is not a fool-proof measure. These cameras are not a piece of highly developed scientific equipment, but we do hope that we may be able to obtain some information.
(Slide of Videon Camera)
(Slide on how the Videon Operates)]
Other Instrumentation [- Videon Camera, Questionnaires, (Illegible) sheet, + copy of this briefing will be given out after the lecture is over. They are guides for your future reporting.]
The possibilities of more extensive instrumentation has been discussed in detail. Many suggestions for more complete cameras, special aircraft instrumentation, and other detection devices have been studied. It is possible that a study contract for such instrumentation may be let, but no actual program will be started now. The cost of such a program would out-weigh the results.
You might be interested in some of the reports we get, I'll give you a brief description of two or three.
On the night of 13 May 1952 about 10 P.M. four amateur astronomers were making observations through a small telescope on a college campus. All of a sudden they noticed four oval shaped objects in a diamond-shape formation. The objects appeared nearly overhead and disappeared at an angle of 12° above the horizon in about 3 seconds. The objects or lights were reddish brown in color and about the size of a half dollar, quarter turned, at arm's length.
Our evaluation of this was unknown. It could possibly have been ducks or geese reflecting light, except the observers pointed out that they had purposely set up their telescope in an area that was completely dark so that there would be no ground lights to hinder their observations.
Another interesting sighting occurred at Patrick AFB in July 1952. Seven people, all AF personnel, observed five different lights near the base during a period of 15 seconds. The first one was hovering in the west, three traveled very swiftly over the base on a west to east heading, and the fifth light came over the base from the west, made a turn, and went back to the west. All of the lights appeared to be much brighter than a star and amber-red in color and there was no sound. No aircraft were in the area.
A balloon had been launched prior to the sighting and could account for the hovering light. It is possible that the three fast-moving lights were meteors, although to see three meteors all traveling the same direction only seconds apart is doubtful. The fifth light that was observed is the one that makes the sighting interesting, no meteor comes in, makes a 180° turn, and departs.
On 14 July 1952 at 2012 EST two. Pan American pilots flying on a heading of 60° near Norfolk, Virginia, observed eight objects over Chesapeake Bay near Old Point Comfort, Virginia, The DC-4 aircraft was at 8,000'. When the aircraft was about 20 to 25 miles out on the NE leg of the Norfolk beam, six objects in trail wore observed below and coming toward the DC4. When they reach a point under and slightly below the aircraft, they appeared to roll on edge and without any radius of turn, shoot off on a heading of about 270° rolling back into a flat position. Immediately after the change in direction the formation was joined by two other objects.
When first seen the objects were glowing on the top side with an intense amber-red light, many times more brilliant than the lights of the city below, they resembled a glowing red hot coal. They appeared circular. As they approached the DC-4 they appeared to decelerate just before they changed direction. During their approach they held a good formation but just before the turn, they appeared to tend to overrun the leader. With the deceleration the glow seemed to dim. Immediately after turning and flattening out, the glow disappeared entirely. They reappeared at once, glowing brilliantly again. As the [sic] began to climb, the lights went out one by one.
They were in view long enough for the pilot to get out of the left seat after he first observed the objects, cross the cockpit, pick them up just as they completed their turn and watch them disappear. It was estimated that this was between 10 and 20 seconds.
The only "clue" as to a possible identification of the objects is a part of the initial report that stated that there were five jet aircraft in the vicinity of Langley AFB, Va., at the time of the sighting. (Note: The incident took place about 10 miles NE of Langley AFB.) Efforts to obtain more data on these jets were unsuccessful.
Since aircraft were in the area it is possible that they were observed. The in-trail formation could have been a "rat race" although doing this in jet, at night, below 8,000', is difficult to believe. The almost instantaneous turn could have been some type of an illusion. The diminishing light could have been the jets pulling off power before the turn. This again is a doubtful point since there is no data available on the appearance of the tailpipe of a jet head-on from above.
Since there were jet aircraft in the area, it is possible that the two Pan American pilots saw these jets. Therefore, we have written this off as "possibly aircraft".
In concluding this briefing, it can again be stated that in none of the reports so far received are there any indications that the reported objects are a direct threat to the United States, nor is there any proof that any of the reports received have been reports of any radically new unknown material object. We admit we cannot explain every report, but we believe we know enough about the unknowns to say they are not anything to invoke undue speculation.
The project will be continued. Even if a system for the fool-proof explanation of every sighting is developed, it will continue because [you never know what may happen in the future] [it is Intelligence's job to the on the alert for unidentified flying objects and to guard against hysteria. By assuring the public (Illegible) something.]
The one threat that could come out of this problem of "flying saucers" is [a "wolf, wolf" situation] [the psychological problem and Russia's conducting an attack with it.] [Some people take an exceedingly "dim view" of such reports and use no logic in trying to explain them. We do not want to clutter communications channels with worthless reports. If you can logically explain a report, fine, there is no need to waste your time and effort forwarding it. All we ask is that you do use logic in writing off a report as a "flying saucer". But, if you believe you have a report that merits the attention of Hq USAF, it should be a complete report. The only way we will continue to learn more about reports of unidentified flying objects is to receive and analyze accurate detailed reports.]
[You as members of A.D.C. (Illegible) 50% can help. Project Blue Book - :
1) Take reports seriously
2) Try to eval. them yourselves
3) In about 3 months - Only TWX]
With that briefing, Ruppelt's career at Blue Book was nearly complete. In April, May, and June he was temporarily reassigned away from Blue Book to take an advanced intelligence course at Lowry AFB, Colorado. He returned to Blue Book for only a few weeks more, and then was deactivated following the end of the Korean War that July.
Behind him, Edward James Ruppelt would leave a serious, systemized approach to investigating and reporting aerial phenomena which -- no matter how reluctantly executed in the coming years -- would continue to document and accumulate sightings reports for the next 17 years of Blue Book's existence.
While just ahead Edward James Ruppelt -- now 30-years old and with a wife and child at home -- had all his possible futures to choose from, at last.
AFTER LEAVING the Air Force, Ed Ruppelt relocated to Southern California, and became a research engineer for Northrop Aircraft -- a major military contractor.
In 1954 he wrote an article on his experiences at Blue Book for True magazine, entitled "What Our Air Force Found Out About Flying Saucers". Two years later he authored The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, a book which went into the phenomena in detail, giving an unprecedented insider's view into the Air Force's problem in solving the mystery. The book in particular left no doubt that there were no easy answers to be found. More surprisingly, he revealed the divide between those in the Air Force who believed the phenomenon was real and interplanetary, and those who thought it all bunk. Many years later The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects also became a blueprint for researchers after the Air Force declassified its Project Blue Book files. Comparing those declassified files against what Ruppelt had written, it turned out there were only rare instances of misrepresentation of the facts, and those mostly minor. Ruppelt's book was by and large factual and presented the details fairly, including when suggested "explanations" failed to fit the facts. Had the Blue Book files never been declassified, the story would still substantially be known, thanks to Ruppelt and his book.
Ruppelt was also generous in giving over his time to people seeking to learn more -- sometimes in person and sometimes by letter. He maintained cordial relations with private researchers, and even served as a consultant on the 1956 docudrama Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers. And in at least one instance Ruppelt bucked the Air Force by publicly backing Major Donald Keyhoe -- who promoted the interplanetary theory -- on Keyhoe's claim that his research had included access to Blue Book investigatory reports in Air Force files.
Curiously, for reasons open to many interpretations, in 1960 Ruppelt added three chapters to his book, ending with the declaration that UFOs were a "space-age myth". The statement ran so contrary to the open-minded approach Ruppelt had always taken that it continues to baffle today. In the end, it would have to stay a question unanswered -- Edward James Ruppelt died from a heart attack shortly afterwards, on September 15, 1960.
He was 37-years old.
But in the end, what Ruppelt ultimately believed personally doesn't matter -- as he would be the first to point out. His approach had always been to gather and present facts without bias, and without regard to his or anyone else's personal preferences or beliefs. And this he always did, to the best of his ability, content to leave the facts to speak for themselves.
In this, it may be instructive to remember back to Ruppelt's time on Tinian Island in World War II, where he wrote to his family asking to be sent packets of blue morning glory seeds. On a visit there many years after Ruppelt's death, his brother Jim found blue morning glories growing around the former American encampment, a reminder that Edward James Ruppelt had once passed this way.
And in the Air Force files, and in his writings, there remains even today a different kind of seed bed left behind by Edward James Ruppelt, sown with great care and capable still of sending forth fresh blooms, for any who will but take the time to stop, and see.
1. Information on Ruppelt's father, mother, etc. is the product of personal research.
2. The quotes from Ruppelt's cousin Jean Evans and his brother, Jim, are found in Captain Edward J. Ruppelt: Summer Of The Saucers by Michael D. Hall and Wendy A. Connors.
3. Information on the flora and fauna of 1930s Iowa was gathered from The WPA Guide to Iowa (1936) by The Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Iowa.
4. The Saturday Evening Post two-part article "What You Can Believe About Flying Saucers" is available through the UFO Magazine Articles section of the Saturday Night Uforia Library portal.
5. The Life Magazine article "Have We Visitors From Space" is available through the UFO Magazine Articles section of the Saturday Night Uforia Library portal.
6. Minutes/transcript for the CSI meeting of April 2, 1952, were sourced from Project 1947 and UFOs at Close Sight. In both those transcripts the name of Homer M. Davies is given as "Homer M. Daview". The correct spelling was found through personal research.
7. The Air Force manual How to Make a FLYOBRPT, dated July, 1953, is available through the UFO Specialty Publications section (under Research, Reports and Official Documents sub-section) of the Saturday Night Uforia Library portal. Included therein are both the questionnaires for "Ground Observers Information Sheet" and "Electronics Data Sheet".
8. The results of the Battelle Memorial Institute statistical analysis resulted in Project Blue Book "Special Report No. 14", completed in 1954 and released to the public in 1955. A Wikipedia entry describes the report thusly...
Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 was their massive statistical analysis of Blue Book cases to date, some 3200 by the time the report was completed in 1954, after Ruppelt had left Blue Book. Even today, it represents the largest such study ever undertaken. Battelle employed four scientific analysts, who sought to divide cases into "knowns", "unknowns", and a third category of "insufficient information." They also broke down knowns and unknowns into four categories of quality, from excellent to poor. E.g., cases deemed excellent might typically involve experienced witnesses such as airline pilots or trained military personnel, multiple witnesses, corroborating evidence such as radar contact or photographs, etc. In order for a case to be deemed a "known", only two analysts had to independently agree on a solution. However, for a case to be called an "unknown", all four analysts had to agree. Thus the criterion for an "unknown" was quite stringent.
In addition, sightings were broken down into six different characteristics — color, number, duration of observation, brightness, shape, and speed — and then these characteristics were compared between knowns and unknowns to see if there was a statistically significant difference.
The main results of the statistical analysis were:
- About 69% of the cases were judged known or identified (38% were considered conclusively identified while 31% were still "doubtfully" explained); about 9% fell into insufficient information. About 22% were deemed "unknown", down from the earlier 28% value of the Air Force studies.
- In the known category, 86% of the knowns were aircraft, balloons, or had astronomical explanations. Only 1.5% of all cases were judged to be psychological or "crackpot" cases. A "miscellaneous" category comprised 8% of all cases and included possible hoaxes.
- The higher the quality of the case, the more likely it was to be classified unknown. 35% of the excellent cases were deemed unknowns, as opposed to only 18% of the poorest cases.
- In all six studied sighting characteristics, the unknowns were different from the knowns at a highly statistically significant level: in five of the six measures the odds of knowns differing from unknowns by chance was only 1% or less. When all six characteristics were considered together, the probability of a match between knowns and unknowns was less than 1 in a billion.
Despite this, the summary section of the Battelle Institute's final report declared it was "highly improbable that any of the reports of unidentified aerial objects... represent observations of technological developments outside the range of present-day knowledge." A number of researchers, including Dr. Bruce Maccabee, who extensively reviewed the data, have noted that the conclusions of the analysts were usually at odds with their own statistical results, displayed in 240 charts, tables, graphs and maps. Some conjecture that the analysts may simply have had trouble accepting their own results or may have written the conclusions to satisfy the new political climate within Blue Book following the Robertson Panel.
When the Air Force finally made Special Report #14 public in October 1955, it was claimed that the report scientifically proved that UFOs did not exist. Critics of this claim note that the report actually proved that the "unknowns" were distinctly different from the "knowns" at a very high statistical significance level. The Air Force also incorrectly claimed that only 3% of the cases studied were unknowns, instead of the actual 22%. They further claimed that the residual 3% would probably disappear if more complete data were available. Critics counter that this ignored the fact that the analysts had already thrown such cases into the category of "insufficient information", whereas both "knowns" and "unknowns" were deemed to have sufficient information to make a determination. Also the "unknowns" tended to represent the higher quality cases, q.e. reports that already had better information and witnesses.
The entire 309-page report is available as a PDF at the Internet Archive.
9. In all, there were 12 "status reports" issued during Ruppelt's tenure, after which such reports either ceased or were not included in the release of Blue Book's declassified files. The fact that Battelle's "Special Report No. 14" seems to leave out a 13th report has caused some speculation. However, it seems likely that the 13th report was in fact "Special Report No. 1" (as distinct from "Status Report No. 1"), dated 28 December 1951, which examined the radar-visual sightings at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey (the incident which resulted in the resuscitation of Project Grudge and the eventual appointment of Ruppelt).
10. In Ruppelt's 31 May 1952 status report, he tersely states...
J. Recent "Mirage" Theories
Several theories on the possibility that some sightings can be explained as a type of mirage have been offered to ATIC. These theories have been accepted as theories, and will be investigated. More details on the ideas have been requested and as soon as they are received they will be submitted to the Blue Book civilian contractor's panel for analysis and comments.
This is a reference to the emerging theories of Dr. Donald Menzel, of which Ruppelt gives a far more vivid recounting in his personal papers...
One day in mid-May 1952, I was in the Pentagon when I received a call from General Garland's office. At that time Gen. Garland was the Deputy Director of Production for General Samford. The girl in Gen. Garland's office said that there would be a meeting in Dr. Stephen Possony's office at 2:00 that afternoon and the general wanted me to be there.
When I arrived at the meeting Col. Dunn was there, along with Gen. Garland, Steve Possony, Les Rosensweig and another colonel whose name I've forgotten. Dr. Menzel was also there. The meeting got right underway with Menzel telling us very bluntly that he had solved the UFO problem for the Air Force. He minced no words. I had heard of Menzel and I was duly impressed with his accomplishments. He said that he had been studying the UFO phenomena for a long time and that he had done all of the development work for the cameras in Project Twinkle. This seemed a little odd to me because I was very familiar with all of the work on Twinkle and I had never heard of his connection with the project.
He went on to tell about how he had seen a UFO while at White Sands P.G. some years before and how he had ordered his driver to stop and had determined that it was a mirage of some sorts. He told how he had done some experiments with liquids of different densities, etc. to prove his ideas about what he'd seen.
After he went through all of this he asked if there were any comments. The way he did this immediately irked everyone at the meeting. He had the attitude that this is it -- worry no more my friends. I wasn't at all convinced that he had as much as he thought he did because he had the same approach and attitude that I had seen in a dozen other people all of whom had the answer. But I hated to say anything due to his stature in the field of science.
Steve Possony, no small cog in the system, wasn't as easy to intimidate, however. Steve's first question was whether or not Menzel thought that the few very elementary and simple experiments proved anything. He asked Menzel if he would try the same basic physics tricks to prove some type of solar phenomena, Menzel's specialty. Menzel hedged a lot on this question and changed the subject.
He started to talk about the hoaxes that we had and tried to make like they were a big percentage of the overall picture. Gen. Garland began to get a little fidgety about this time and told Menzel that we were well aware of how many of the sightings were hoaxes, about 2 or 3 percent.
Then Menzel announced that he had sold a story of his ideas to Time and Look. He said that he would like to have the Air Force publicly back him up 100% in these two magazines. At this Gen. Garland about blew a stack. Steve Possony asked Menzel if it might not be more scientific to do a little bit more research on the subject before he went out and sold the story. Also, he said he thought that Menzel could have approached the Air Force a little sooner. Then Col. Dunn said that he thought that ATIC -- specifically Blue Book -- would have been very glad to put a little money into a more formal type of experiment. He went on to say that he didn't think that the Air Force would care to endorse something that we know so little about. He did say that we would be glad to say that Menzel had told us about the theory and that this could be released through the PIO.
At this Menzel blew his top. It was no theory, he said. Then he began to throw around the name of Jonathan Leonard of Time magazine and said that he was behind this 100% and that Leonard would do this and that.
After a bit more of a hassle I asked Menzel if he would leave us a copy of his work so that we could show it to a few of ATIC's consultants. He wanted to know who we would show it to and I said Dr. Joe Kaplan, of the physics Department of UCLA, Dr. Hynek, of Ohio State, and I would also like to have the people at 'Project Bear, run some theoretical calculations on it.
Menzel refused this suggestion and folded up his data and got ready to leave. Gen. Garland again told him that if he cared to, he could mail the data to us at ATIC.
That evening Steve Possony contacted Father Heyden, Head of the Astronomy Department at Georgetown University, and told him about it. He was very adamant in his idea that all Menzel had was a couple of meaningless high school physics experiments.
The next morning I was requested to do a little checking by Possony.
I happened to go to the Office of Naval Research this morning to see Lt. Com. Frank Thomas, who was our contact man with ONR and the Navy. I mentioned our meeting with Menzel and he stopped me about halfway through the story. He got on the phone and called someone in ONR. It turned out that Menzel had tried to pull a deal with the Navy, only he was backing some kind of gun. He had decided that it was the salvation of the Navy and he had tried to put the pressure on them to back him. He went a step further, though, he offered to donate his time as a consultant in developing this gun. (It might have been something else, but I think that it was a gun.)
This seemed to be a very noble thing to do so ONR got interested. The bids for the contracts came in and Menzel strongly suggested that they be given to a small outfit that had made one of the bids. Since the bid was high, ONR did a little investigating and found out that Menzel was one of the prime backers of this 'nonprofit research organization.' ONR canceled out on the whole thing.
We received no more info from Menzel until his article came out in Time. When it did come out, I called Dr. Kaplan on the West Coast. He hadn't seen the article but said that he would get a copy of the magazine and call me right back. He did and I can't recall his comment but it was very nasty. I asked him if he would put his comments in writing and wire them to me since the press was on our necks. He did and the wire said something to the effect that although Dr. Menzel had an interesting idea, it was far from the answer to all UFO reports. I passed this wire on to Al Chop in the Pentagon and it was toned down a little more and passed on to the press.
In the meantime Dr. Hynek had seen the article and called me. He was just as irked. It was his opinion that Menzel was stooping to some pretty low tactics to make a buck.
Sometime later, at an American Optical Society Meeting in Boston, Dr. Hynek got Menzel on the stand to debate with him on the subject and really ran him into the ground. We taped the session -- Bob Olsson did it -- for our records.
The article in Time appeared in its June 9, 1952, issue, and is available to read through the Saturday Night Uforia Library portal. The text of Ruppelt's personal papers given above is taken from UFOs: A History by Loren E. Gross. Some minor spelling errors were corrected as it is assumed they were introduced in the transcript rather than existing in the original.
11. In Ruppelt's 31 January 1953 status report, he states...
Sighting reports dated up to and including June 1952 have been processed. Except for the reports dated 1947 and 1948, all sighting reports up to and including March 1952 have been evaluated. The sighting reports for 1947 and 1948 are not available for evaluation. As soon as the 1947 and 1948 reports are available and can be evaluated, all sighting reports for the years 1947 to 1951 will be ready as a group for preliminary analysis utilizing IBM equipment.
Though no reason is given by Ruppelt as to why the sighting reports of 1947 and 1948 were "not available for evaluation" at the time, the answer may lie in another incident involving Menzel, as revealed in Ruppelt's personal papers...
It wasn't too long after this that we received a letter from Menzel. It contained about the same thing that the articles contained, although he had said that he had a lot more data for us. He proposed that he be allowed to act as an unpaid consultant (dollar a year) to work out more of his idea for Blue Book. He said that he knew of a non-profit organization that would be glad to take over the actual work. We wrote back and said to have the organization submit a proposal. In a few weeks we received the proposal and it was outlandishly high for the work that they offered to do. They were going to set up searchlights in the desert, etc. but they wanted all Air Force people and equipment to do it. Remembering the story that I heard in ONR I turned the proposal over to ANC, who would have handled the negotiations, and they found that Menzel also had considerable interest in this organization. This didn't alter our decision to give it a fair review, however, and we sent it to "Project Bear," Dr. Kaplan, and Dr. Hynek. All of them very definitely turned thumbs down on the proposal as being too much money for what we would get. Dr. Kaplan was on his way to Italy to attend an international meeting of geophysicists at the time that I showed him the proposal so he took some of the data along with him. He showed it to many of the people from other countries and they were likewise unimpressed, although they were very much interested -- curiosity wise -- in the UFO's and what Dr. Kaplan had to say about them.
The proposal was duly rejected by ATIC and Menzel was notified.
In a few weeks we received another letter from him. He said that he had decided to write a book and wanted to know when he could come to ATIC to study our files. Although this was against the policies, Col. Dunn suggested that we go ahead and try to set it up. I checked with the AMC security people and they said that he had no clearance and that temporarily, he couldn't get one. Since ATIC is a secure area he couldn't be allowed to visit for any length of time. He was notified of this and didn't like it. Col. Dunn sent him a letter, very much to the point, saying that he could get his data through channels, from the PIO, like anyone else.
Not long after this I had a visit from Dr. Aiken, of Harvard, a computer specialist. Aiken said that he thought that maybe he could make something of the UFO reports if we would be kind enough to loan them to him. He was working for ATIC at the time and had the proper clearances and storage facilities that allowed him to store documents borrowed from ATIC. We packed up three years of reports and sent them to him. He was to send them back to us in a month. One month passed, then two, and not a word from Aiken. I called him several times and he was "just getting ready to send them back" each time. Finally I sent Bob Olsson up to Boston to get the reports but when he arrived Aiken couldn't produce them. We did get them back a few days later.
When Menzel's book came out, here were all of the classified reports in it. The specific item that gave the whole thing away, and caused us to check further, was a "confession" to the FBI from Chrisman and Dahl, who were the originators of a big hoax in Tacoma, Washington. For some time we had been trying to get the "confession" released but couldn't. Then there were other verbatim quoted from many old reports that had never been released but had been sent to Aiken. I tried to push an investigation but Col. Don Bower talked me out of it since the data that was taken really wasn't of any interest or consequence. I still objected to the principle of the act. I felt that even though the material probably should have been declassified long ago -- like so much other data -- it wasn't up to Aiken to pass it on to someone who didn't even have a clearance. If he would do this with our data, and Menzel asked him to do it, both were darn poor security risks.
This ended the Menzel story except for a few nasty letters that I received from him after I went off active duty.
The text of Ruppelt's personal papers given above is found in Captain Edward J. Ruppelt: Summer Of The Saucers by Michael D. Hall and Wendy A. Connors. Some minor spelling errors were corrected as it is assumed they were introduced in the transcript rather than existing in the original.
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