Dec 18, 2012 I Micah Hanks

The Blue Books: Required Reading in Ufology

The lights just outside the cockpit of Japan Air Lines flight 1628 had been so bright--and so hot--that the heat from the thrusters on the adjacent aircraft could be felt by Captain Kenju Terauchi. An ex-fighter pilot, Terauchi has spent well in excess of 10,000 hours in the air, and despite his experience with different varieties of aircraft, he had never seen anything quite like this.

Two objects, flying in formation nearby, had appeared as Terauchi and his crew flew over Alaska on the evening of November 17, 1986. It was approximately ten minutes after five PM, and just as the crew of the plane began to watch these two strange craft that had been accompanying them veer off and out of sight, yet another strange craft made its presence known to them: in the distance ahead, a large object, first appearing as a "narrow band of light," soon became apparent. With time, Terauchi and his crew could see the tremendous mothership illuminated by the city lights of nearby Fairbanks, and estimated it to be larger than an aircraft carrier.

While the events in question here occurred long after the close of the US Air Force's Project Blue Book, there is one unique aspect of this story which begs attention. According to Terauchi, who had requested a change in course in order to avoid the large craft ahead, when asked by Air Traffic Control if military intervention were necessary, the Captain apparently declined due to possessing knowledge of the "Mantell Incident," a report from within the pages of Project Blue Book that detailed the death of a fighter pilot who had attempted to pursue and engage a UFO. Obviously, Terauchi had been familiar with the Blue Book reports, and in truth, anyone who cares to seriously study the history of UFO reports would do well to do the same, and for a number of reasons which remain very relevant, even with new modern approaches to the study of UFOs.

Skeptics like Phillip J. Klass had spent a number of years not only trying to diminish the importance of UFO reports, but also dismissing the notion that a trained pilot would make for a more experienced witness when an aerial sighting of a UFO actually occurred. In the case of Captain Kenju Terauchi, he was indeed both an ex-fighter pilot with more than 10,000 hours of flight time, as well as a witness who was able to observe a pair of strange objects, described as rectangular, or perhaps cylindrical, depending on the angle of observation, lined with various "thrusters" that appeared to involuntarily control the two objects as they hovered alongside JAL Flight 1628. This close-up observation was in addition, of course, to the subsequent later viewing of an even larger and more ominous craft. But in addition to all of the circumstances that make this report extraordinary, Terauchi also was familiar, at least to some degree, with reports featured in the Air Force's Project Blue Book files.

For any serious researcher who seeks to study unidentified flying objects, the Blue Book files do indeed present a wealth of unique information about the scientific study (at times even dryly so) of unexplained aerial phenomenon. Project Blue Book was an official review of UFO reports undertaken by the United States Air Force in the years following the Second World War. It was proceeded by two other studies, known as Project Sign, and the more infamous Project Grudge, which resulted in a rather dismissive presentation on the phenomenon referred to as The Grudge Report. Project Blue Book came about under the initial oversight of Edward J. Ruppelt, a sharp-minded young Air Force officer who began to seriously investigate the UFO problem.

Resulting from the work of Ruppelt and others that would follow, there are three primary books that have seen print publication over the years, which focus on the Blue Book reports, along with supplemental scientific studies that accompanied them. They are as follows:

The Report on Unidentified Objects by Edward J. Ruppelt: This book was Ruppelt's official story of the UFO enigma, and though one of the earliest authoritative texts on UFOs, it remains arguably one of the very best. Ruppelt's discerning character and knowledgeable approach to the subject (coming from a background in flight and aviation during wartime) helped distinguish the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. In fact, even the first edition of the book (a second edition was later released, where Ruppelt's open minded attitudes toward UFOs seemed to diminish somewhat) denounced the so-called "Mantell Incident" as being the result of misidentification of a weather balloon at high altitudes. The book can be downloaded online by clicking here.

Project Blue Book, edited by Brad Steiger: The files of the famous study, of which Dr. J. Allen Hynek had famously retored, "there is not now and there was never an Air Force Blue Book." Granted, in the years since that statement, the Blue Book files actually were and compiled and edited, seeing an initial print release to mass-market paper back in an edition edited by renowned paranormalist Brad Steiger. The entire series of files (in non-book form) can also be downloaded online by clicking here.

The Hynek UFO Report by Dr. J. Allen Hynek: Astronomer J. Allen Hynek had initially been of the more skeptical ilk when he was approached by the U.S. Air Force to lend his scientific expertise in understanding a few of the better "unknowns" that existed amidst UFO reports. But that view would change as he carefully began to review the multitude of UFO reports collected during the Blue Book years. But while the actual Project Blue Book files were useful in the study of UFOs, Hynek's book not only reviewed the very best of them, but also colored the text with his own scientific musings and commentary, making this edition perhaps the best of the books written on the UFO subject, especially as it pertained to the Air Force's official studies. Hynek's thought-provoking book is also now available online in eBook format at the following link:

J. Allen Hynek's The Hynek UFO Report, available through

While each of these three volumes is decades old by now, they must be recognized--and almost regretfully, in a way--as some of the finest scientific treatments ever afforded the UFO mystery. I say regretfully here because the study of UFOs, as indicated in these documents, was once something that was taken very seriously, and treated as a matter worthy of scientific attention. The subsequent University of Colorado UFO Project (otherwise remembered as "The Condon Committee") later succeeded in downplaying the matter in the public eye, effectively causing the testimonies of experienced pilots, much like Captain Terauchi a few years later in 1986, to be viewed with a doubtful eye, and despite the incredible circumstances they would seem to present.

In a way, while it is unfortunate that the serious scientific treatment of UFOs has fallen to the wayside, there is still much that can be learned from reading the offerings of yesteryear, and if anything, with some hope the scientists and astronomers of today might be able to one day apply new science and understanding to the phenomenon, thus continuing the work of those like Hynek, Ruppelt, and so many others who worked to lay the groundwork for future generations of ufologists.


Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.

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