Home‎ > ‎Education‎ > ‎Articles‎ > ‎

“Blue Book”: the most controversial UFO investigation in history

publicado a la‎(s)‎ 18 dic 2019, 3:38 por Plataforma Sites Dgac   [ actualizado el 7 oct 2020, 7:59 ]
50 years ago, on December 17, 1969, the United States Air Force decided to end “Project Blue Book”, its official investigation into the UFO Phenomenon that had existed since 1952.
Astronomer Josef Allen Hynek, scientific advisor of Project Blue Book and considered by some scholars as the "father" of ufology.

Aidan Gillen plays Hynek in History Channel's TV series "Project Blue Book".
Project Blue Book was an undertaking that ufologists still discuss today. For some, it was just a public relations exercise to handle the demands of the US citizenry while the actual investigation would have been carried out by other agencies hidden from public scrutiny.

The truth is that Blue Book was the last, and the most enduring, of a series of research projects on UFOs by the United States Air Force that began in 1947 after the beginning of the “modern age” of ufology after civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of June 24 of that year, which led the press to coin the term “flying saucers”. 

Blue Book’s predecessors

Following the sighting of Kenneth Arnold and several others that occurred in different countries from June, 1947, on, US Air Force Lieutenant General Nathan Twining sent a secret memorandum on “flying discs” to the Pentagon, stating that “the phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.”

Thus, a project called “Sign” was born at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, with the mandate to collect reports on flying discs’ sightings and assess whether the phenomenon was a National Security threat.

In a secret document called “Estimate of the Situation”, Project Sign’s staff ruled out the Soviet origin of the phenomenon and, based on available evidence, stated that it most likely had an interplanetary origin. 

However, that document was rejected by the Air Force chief of staff, General Hoyt Vandenberg. In February, 1949, “Project Grudge” was created as a successor to Project Sign, but the new initiative operated until December of that year and then continued to operate at minimal capacity until the end of 1951. 

Edward Ruppelt 

In March, 1952, Project Blue Book finally came into operation, led by Air Force Captain Edward Ruppelt. He was the one who coined the term “Unidentified Flying Object”, or UFO and in 1956 he published the book Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. 

The Blue Book Project was advised, among others, by Professor Josef Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Northwestern University who had also collaborated with the Sign and Grudge projects.

Hynek was originally skeptical of UFOs and his job was to debunk sightings and offer conventional explanations, but over the years he became convinced that the unexplained cases pointed to the existence of a real and unknown phenomenon. Hynek is regarded by many scholars as the “father” of modern ufology. 

The Condon Committee

After Ruppelt, Project Blue Book had several directors, including Captain Charles Hardin, Captain George Gregory, Major Robert Friend and Major Hector Quintanilla.

In 1966, after UFO sightings in the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, a hearing was held by the Armed Services Commission of the House of Representatives of the US Congress. That led to a mandate for a university to review the information and files on the subject compiled by Project Blue Book.

To that end, in 1966 a team from the University of Colorado headed by physicist Edward Uhler Condon was commissioned for this task. The “Condon Committee” studied files, reports and footage for three years and concluded that there were no merits to carry out further studies on UFOs, in a decision that divides scholars and critics until today.

Faced with that conclusion, the Air Force decided to end its official investigation of UFOs on December 17, 1969. At the time of its closure, Project Blue Book had collected 12,618 reports on UFO sightings, of which 701 remain unexplained. 

On December 16, 2017, US newspapers The Washington Post and The New York Times and the multimedia company Politico reported that the Pentagon allocated 22 million dollars for a secret investigation into UFOs or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” (UAP) between 2007 and 2012. 

TV series 

In January, 2019, The History Channel premiered its fictional series “Project Blue Book”, based on the real initiative and starring astronomer Josef Allen Hynek, played by actor Aidan Gillen (known for his role as Petyr Baelish in the acclaimed series Game of Thrones). 

Although the characters of the astronomer and his wife, Mimi Hynek, are based on real people, the others —such as Captain Michael Quinn, played by actor Michael Malarkey— are the brainchild of the team led by director and producer Robert Zemeckis, while the ufological stories it presents are moderately inspired by real cases investigated by Project Blue Book.