Jun 10, 2021 I Nick Redfern

UFOs and the U.S. Government: The Origins and the Air Force

In the last couple of years we've seen more and more information coming out of the U.S. government on the matter of UFOs. In fact, it's practically impossible to avoid the incredible amount of UFO data that has been pouring out lately. But, some may be wondering, when was it that the government really got involved in the matters of UFOs and Flying Saucers? Let's take a look. It was in the summer of 1947 that the UFO controversy began. On June 24, 1947 a pilot named Kenneth Arnold encountered a squadron of strange-looking, boomerang-like aircraft flying near Mt. Rainier, Washington State. As an experienced pilot, Arnold was puzzled by the fact that he was unable to figure out what, exactly, the craft were. On landing, Arnold shared his story with the media and told them that the objects flew like a saucer skimmed across a body of water – in a kind of up and down motion. In literally only hours, the term "Flying Saucer" was coined. The big irony is that the "Saucer" part came from Arnold’s observation of how the object flew, rather than their shape.

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Kenneth Arnold

The U.S. military quickly moved to investigate the case, as well as a wave of quite literally hundreds of additional sightings throughout the remainder of 1947 and into 1948. Thus was born the government’s first UFO program, Project Sign. Interestingly, Project Sign staff concluded that there really was a UFO phenomenon, but they were unable to state with any degree of accuracy what the objects actually were. Theories posited by Sign personnel included Russian craft, and the creations of a secret group within the U.S. Government. Some of the Sign staff favored the extraterrestrial hypothesis. In 1948, Project Sign was replaced with Project Grudge. Just like Sign, Grudge had its personnel who championed the alien angle, while others suggested military aircraft of some kind – and either the product of Uncle Sam or the Soviets. Certainly, the most well-known of all the UFO programs was Project Blue Book. Let's see what the government says about all this:

"On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force announced the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force program for the investigation of UFOs. From 1947 to 1969, a total of 12, 618 sightings were reported to Project Blue Book. Of these 701 remain ‘Unidentified.’ The project was headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, whose personnel no longer receive, document or investigate UFO reports. The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, ‘Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects;’ a review of the University of Colorado's report by the National Academy of Sciences; past UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the 40s, '50s, and '60s."

The Air Force continues: "As a result of these investigations and studies and experience gained from investigating UFO reports since 1948, the conclusions of Project Blue Book are:(1) no UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication of threat to our national security;(2) there has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as "unidentified" represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge; and(3) there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as "unidentified" are extraterrestrial vehicles. With the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force regulations establishing and controlling the program for investigating and analyzing UFOs were rescinded. Documentation regarding the former Blue Book investigation has been permanently transferred to the Military Reference Branch, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC 20408, and is available for public review and analysis.”"

There is also this from the Air Force: "Since Project Blue Book was closed, nothing has happened to indicate that the Air Force ought to resume investigating UFOS. Because of the considerable cost to the Air Force in the past, and the tight funding of Air Force needs today, there is no likelihood the Air Force will become involved with UFO investigation again. There are a number of universities and professional scientific organizations, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which have considered UFO phenomena during periodic meetings and seminars. In addition, a list of private organizations interested in aerial phenomena may be found in Gale's Encyclopedia of Associations (edition 8, vol-. 1, pp. 432-433). Such timely review of the situation by private groups ensures that sound evidence will not be overlooked by the scientific community. A person calling the base to report a UFO is advised to contact a private or professional organization (as mentioned above) or to contact a local law enforcement agency if the caller feels his or public safety is endangered.”

And, finally, there is this from the Air Force: "Periodically, it is erroneously stated that the remains of extraterrestrial visitors are or have been stored at Wright-Patterson AFB. There are not now nor ever have been, any extraterrestrial visitors or equipment on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base." This last piece, of course, is a nod to the notorious “Roswell UFO crash” of July 1947, and claims that strange bodies found outside of Roswell were secretly sent to Wright-Patterson for analysis and autopsy. Of course, since the Air Force wrote this summary, there have been a great deal of new developments. No doubt, and particularly in this period of strange uncertainty we're in right now, it's highly likely we'll see far more and more revelations surfacing soon.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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