UFO Mind Project Bluebook
In the features Project Sign, and Project Grudge, we saw that, after
General Hoyt Vandenburg rejected the conclusions of Project Sign's 1948
"Estimate of the Situation" as being unfounded, the attitude of the Air Force
toward UFOs changed. The name change of its official agent for UFO
investigation changed on 16 December 1948 from Project Sign to Project
Grudge reflected this change in attitude, as did the final report of Project
Sign. On 27 December 1949, a year after its creation, Project Grudge was
officially closed and its final report was issued shortly thereafter. It was
claimed that the 23 percent of UFO reports that could not be explained by
ordinary phenomena could be explained by psychological phenomena.
Project Grudge, however, while "officially" closed, was still functioning
reduced level. This reduced level consisted of a solitary investigator, Lt.
Jerry Cummings. The Project might have faded away altogether except for
a series of sightings at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, which resulted in the
military itself criticizing the Air Force for its poor investigation of something
that seemed to be a threat to national security.
As a result, when Lt. Cummings left the Air Force in 1951, Captain
Edward Ruppelt, an Air Force intelligence officer, was appointed to take
over the project, which was renamed Project Bluebook. Ruppelt took the
task seriously and completely reorganized the project. He established
means for speeding the receipt of reports, established liaisons with other
agencies, systematized reporting procedures, and obtained the services of a
scientific consultant in the person of astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek. A
standard reporting form was developed by Ohio State University, and the
Battelle Memorial Institute was commissioned to do a statistical study
known as Project Stork. By April, 1952, after an increase in sighting
reports, clearance was given for all intelligence officers at all U.S. Air
Force bases to send reports directly to Bluebook by teletype. It seemed
that at last the Air Force was truly serious about UFOs. It was just in time
for the "flap" of 1952.
The "Flap of 1952" was a huge increase in sightings peaking in July with
massive sightings both visual and on radar over Washington, D.C. These
sightings were so numerous that they became known as the Washington
Nationals. Even the CIA became concerned, so much so that they ordered
the Office of Scientific Intelligence to review the data collected by
Bluebook and the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson
AFB and to make recommendations based on their findings.
The OSI review of the existing data resulted in a recommendation,
predictably, that the phenomena required more study. The main concern of
the CIA was not that UFOs were a direct threat to the U.S., but that they
were an indirect one. During this period, they heyday of the Cold war, the
fear was that the many UFO sighting reports might obscure a very real
threat from the Soviet Union. One example was that, during a wave of
UFO sightings, a Soviet attack or an overflight by a Russian
intelligence-gathering aircraft might not be recognized as such until it was
So, the CIA asked a Cal-Tech physicist, Dr. H.P. Robertson, to assemble
a panel of respected scientists to study the UFO phenomenon. These
included Dr. Samuel A Goudsmit, a nuclear physicist with the Brookhaven
National Laboratories, geophysicist Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, radar &
electronics expert Dr. Luis Alvarez of the University of California, and
Johns Hopkins University astronomer Dr. Thornton L. Page. Astronomer
and Project Bluebook consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Frederick C.
Durant, president of the International Astronautical Foundation, were
associate members of the panel.
This distinguished panel, which would become known as the Robertson
Panel, spent four days, 14 January, 1953 through 17 January, 1953,
reviewing the existing evidence. At the end of this time, they issued a
report, known as the "Durant Report", which merely restated that UFOs
were not a direct threat to U.S. security , but which reiterated the fears of
the CIA that the Soviets might somehow use the phenomenon to mask an
invasions of the United States:
We cite as examples the clogging of channels of communication by
irrelevant reports, the danger of being led by continued false alarms to
ignore real indications of hostile action, and the cultivation of a morbid
national psychology in which skillful hostile propaganda could induce
hysterical behavior and harmful distrust of duly constituted authority.
Further, the Panel recommended a policy of debunking UFO sightings in
order to quell the growing public preoccupation with the phenomenon:
...the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the
Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status that they have been
given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired;
The conclusions of the Robertson Panel, as hasty and obviously
disinforming as they were, dampened military and government enthusiasm
for the study of UFOs. Captain Ruppelt left active duty in August, 1953,
and Project Bluebook was turned over to an enlisted man, Airman First
Class Max Futch. Additionally, an order called JANAP-146 was issued in
December, 1953, which made the reporting of unidentified flying objects
by military personnel a National Security Issue, with possible prosecution
for its violation. The Air Force was publicly debunking UFOs, while
privately drawing a veil of secrecy around their investigations. Personnel
changes at Bluebook over the years reflect the decline in interest of the Air
In March of 1954, Major Charles Hardin was put in charge of Project
Bluebook, and the 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron began
training as field investigators. In 1955, the results of the Battelle Memorial
Institute study were finally released as Bluebook Special Report Number
14. The study had a number of flaws, and concluded that improved
methods of investigation and reporting would result in all UFO sightings
being explained as ordinary phenomena.
In April, 1956, Captain George T. Gregory took over the helm of
Bluebook and he began a concerted effort to "explain" every sighting, even
if he had to make wide stretches to fit a sighting into an "explained"
In July, 1957, the 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron was
disbanded, and the 1006th AISS took over investigation duties. In July,
1959, investigative responsibilities were passed on again, to the 1127th
Field Activities Group.
In October, 1958, Gregory was replaced by Major Robert J. Friend. By
this time, the Air Force considered Project Bluebook to be a burden, and
tried to find a way to either transfer it out of the intelligence section or to
close it down altogether.
In 1963, Friend was replaced by Major Hector Quintanilla. Bluebook
personnel had dropped to just two: Quintanilla and an enlisted man.
The death knell for Project Bluebook was heard in April, 1966, when the
House Armed Services Committee recommended that the Air Force
contract with a University for a scientific study of UFOs. On October 7,
1966, the Air Force announced that a program to study UFOs would be
conducted by the University of Colorado and headed by Dr. Edward
Condon. In reality, the Condon Committee, as it was called, had one task,
and that was to provide a reason for the Air Force to end its official
investigation of UFOs.
A speech given at the Corning Glass Works by Dr. Condon soon after the
study began is revealing:
"It is my inclination right now to recommend that the government get out
of this business. My attitude right now is that there's nothing to it."
"...but I'm not supposed to reach a conclusion for another year."
That final conclusion of the "Condon Report", released 9 January, 1969
Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of
UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge.
Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to
conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be
justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.
On December 17, 1969, Project Bluebook was closed and the veil of
secrecy had been completely drawn around whatever investigation of
UFOs was being conducted by the military.
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