5 Facts You Should Know About Project Blue Book
The secrets about UFOs from the mysterious US Project Blue Book
Image caption The name “flying saucers” arose from the first description made by a pilot in 1947 after seeing unidentified objects flying
Amateur historian John Greenewald has spent nearly two decades petitioning the US government for declassified information on unidentified flying objects, better known as UFOs.
He recently published more than 100,000 pages of documents from internal US Air Force investigations into UFOs.
We tell you what are the five things you need to know about the Project Blue Book (Project Blue Book).
1. Project Blue Book had an important mission
The origins of this ambitious project date back to June 1947, ufologist Alejandro Rojas tells the BBC.
The editor of Open Minds magazine says that well-respected businessman and pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying over Washington state when he saw several unidentified flying objects.
Arnold later described the event as “jumping saucers,” so the media began calling them “flying saucers.”
This high-profile incident, along with several others, including a suspected UFO landing in Roswell, New Mexico, the same year, prompted the Air Force to create an investigative agency.
Called Project Blue Book, the program included just a handful of people.
However, the group investigated 12,618 UFO sightings over a period of two decades.
Its headquarters were at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
2. The project was created at a time of public uncertainty
Founded after World War II, the project was intended to stop the spread of public concern about a growing number of reported UFO sightings, including some over the White House or the US Capitol.
“There was a lot of hysteria among the public and at the time that was a threat to the military and the government,” says Greenewald.
“It didn’t matter if the UFOs were aliens or not, they were causing panic, so (the government) had to calm everyone’s nerves.
The UFO issue became a national security issue and was a top government issue during the 1940s and 1950s.
Although today the subject of UFOs is the source of frequent jokes, in the 1940s and 1950s they were the subject of discussion at the highest levels of the US government.
“It was taken very seriously back then,” Rojas explains, “with the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), publicly stating that it was a real phenomenon and even then Congressman Gerard Ford saying that they should be investigated.
In 1966 an independent committee of the Air Force was created to deepen some of the cases of Project Blue Book.
That group published a report some time later in which it assured that there was no evidence that there was any UFO activity.
The project was officially closed in 1969.
3. Many of the cases appear open and then closed
Although many credible sources, from Navy admirals to civilian and military pilots, reported seeing UFOs, most of the cases investigated by the project were considered to be caused by weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events, and even temperature inversions.
In Seattle, in the northwestern US state of Washington, in April 1956, a witness described seeing a “round white object, half the size of the Moon, going round and round,” according to the documents.
Investigators concluded it was a meteorite and closed the case.
In January 1961 in Newark, New Jersey, a person reported seeing a dark gray object “the size of a wingless jet.”
That object was later considered a plane flying in the area.
4. Some of the Project Blue Book cases are not so easy to explain
According to Greenewald and Rojas, more than 700 of the cases recorded in the project cannot ultimately be explained by the researchers. Many of them had insufficient information.
But even some of the closed cases raise more questions than answers for UFO investigators.
In one example, in 1964 a police officer in Socorro, New Mexico went on a chase after seeing a strange aircraft flying in the sky.
The officer followed the craft – which he described as having a strange red insignia – saw it land and saw two child-sized beings emerge from it. He left burn marks and evidence on the ground.
“The Blue Book labeled them unexplained, even after all these decades they still can’t explain,” says Greenewald.
5. There is still information to discover about UFO activity
Although Greenewald has amassed vast amounts of government documents, he says there are still many that he and the public have not accessed.
A request to the National Security Agency (NSA) released hundreds of pages of information, but only a few words were legible on each page, he explains.
Other U.S. government entities—including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)—also did unpublished UFO research, Greenewald notes.
Most of the cases recorded in Project Blue Book were dismissed by an independent investigative committee.
“I think Project Blue Book…is just the tip of the iceberg,” she says, adding that she will continue to seek more information from the US government.
“There are secrets, behind conspiracies, and behind there are scandals yet to come out,” concludes Greenewald.
“There is always something to go after.”