This online book was produced by NICAP Site Coordinator, Francis L. Ridge, and authorized by the Center for UFO Studies
This is the first serious book about UFOs to be written by anyone actively connected with the official investigation of these phenomena. As chief of the Air Force project assigned to the investigation and analysis of UFOs, Mr. Ruppelt and his staff studied over 4,500 reports and discussed them with everyone from out-and-out crackpots to top-level scientists and generals
All reports received were subjected to military intelligence analysis procedures. Astronomers, physicists, aerodynamic engineers, and psychologists were consulted in the course of the Air Force's exhaustive investigations. The official Air Technical Intelligence Center reports of their findings, many details from which are revealed for the first time in this book, contain some completely baffling detailed accounts of UFO sightings by thoroughly reliable witnesses.
Here are the complete official accounts of the classic cases - the Lubbock Lights, the Utah Movies, the Florida Scoutmaster, the Washington Sightings - as well as a wealth of less- publicized but equally amazing incidents.
While others who have written books and articles on UFOs imply that they were conferring with officials in the inner sanctum, Mr. Ruppelt, as this fascinating book makes clear, was the inner sanctum.
About the Author
From early 1951 until September 1953, Edward J Ruppelt was chief of the United States Air Force's Project Blue Book, an operation of the Air Technical Intelligence Center. Since 1953 the author has been in close contact with the present project staff and recently made a trip across the country to check current developments. Mr. Ruppelt is now a research engineer for the Northrop Aircraft Company. - 1956
This is a book about unidentified flying objects - UFO's - flying saucers." It is actually more than a book; it is a report because it is the first time that anyone, either military or civilian, has brought together in one document all the facts about this fascinating subject. With the exception of the style, this report is written exactly the way I would have written it had I been officially asked to do so while I was chief of the Air Force's project for investigating UFO reports - Project Blue Book.
In many instances I have left out the names of the people who reported seeing UFO's, or the names of certain people who were associated with the project, just as I would have done in an official report. For the same reason I have changed the locale in which some of the UFO sightings occurred. This is especially true in CHAPTER FIFTEEN, the story of how some of our atomic scientists detected radiation whenever UFO's were reported near their "UFO detection stations." This policy of not identifying the "source," to borrow a term from military intelligence, is insisted on by the Air Force so that the people who have co-operated with them will not get any unwanted publicity. Names are considered to be "classified information."
But the greatest care has been taken to make sure that the omission of names and changes in locale has in no way altered the basic facts because this report is based on the facts - all of the facts - nothing of significance has been left out.
It was only after considerable deliberation that I put this report together, because it had to be told accurately, with no holds barred. I finally decided to do it for two reasons. First, there is world-wide interest in flying saucers; people want to know the facts. But more often than not these facts have been obscured by secrecy and confusion, a situation that has led to wild speculation on one end of the scale and an almost dangerously blasé'
attitude on the other. It is only when all of the facts are laid out that a correct evaluation can be made.
Second, after spending two years investigating and analyzing UFO reports, after talking to the people who have seen UFO's - industrialists, pilots, engineers, generals, and just the plain man-on-the-street, and after discussing the subject with many very capable scientists, I felt that I was in a position to be able to put together the complete account of the Air Force's struggle with the flying saucer.
The report has been difficult to write because it involves something that doesn't officially exist. It is well known that ever since the first flying saucer was reported in June 1947 the Air Force has officially said that there is no proof that such a thing as an interplanetary spaceship exists. But what is not well known is that this conclusion is far from being unanimous among the military and their scientific advisers because of the one word, proof; so the UFO investigations continue.
The hassle over the word "proof" boils down to one question: What constitutes proof? Does a UFO have to land at the River Entrance to the Pentagon, near the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices? Or is it proof when a ground radar station detects a UFO, sends a jet to intercept it, the jet pilot sees it, and locks on with his radar, only to have the UFO streak away at a phenomenal speed? Is it proof when a jet pilot fires at a UFO and sticks to his story even under the threat of court-martial? Does this constitute proof?
The at times hotly debated answer to this question may be the answer to the question, "Do the UFO's really exist?"
I'll give you the facts - all of the facts - you decide.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story
In the summer of 1952 a United States Air Force F-86 jet interceptor shot at a flying saucer.
This fact, like so many others that make up the full flying saucer story has never before been told.
I know the full story about flying saucers and I know that it has never before been told because I organized and was chief of the Air Force Project Blue Book, the special project set up to investigate and analyze unidentified flying object, or UFO reports. (UFO is the official term that I created to replace the words 'flying saucers.")
There is a fighter base in the United States which I used to visit frequently because, during 1951, 1952, and 1953, it got more than its share of good UFO reports.
The commanding officer of the fighter group, a full colonel and command pilot, believed that UFO's were real. The colonel believed in UFO's because he had a lot of faith in his pilots - and they had chased UFO's in their F-86's. He had seen UFO's on the scopes of his radar sets, and he knew radar.
The colonel's intelligence officer, a captain, didn't exactly believe that UFO's were real, but he did think that they warranted careful investigation. The logic the intelligence officer used in investigating UFO reports - and in getting answers to many of them - made me wish many times that he worked for me on Project Blue Book.
One day the intelligence officer called me at my base in Dayton, Ohio. He wanted to know if I was planning to make a trip his way soon. When I told him I expected to be in his area in about a week, he asked me to be sure to look him up. There was no special hurry, he added, but he had something very interesting to show me.
When we got wind of a good story, Project Blue Book liked to start working on it at once, so I asked the intelligence officer to tell me what
2. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
he had. But nothing doing. He didn't want to discuss it over the phone. He even vetoed the idea of putting it into a secret wire. Such extreme caution really stopped me, because anything can be coded and put in a wire.
When I left Dayton about a week later I decided to go straight to the fighter base, planning to arrive there in midmorning. But while I was changing airlines my reservations got fouled up, and I was faced with waiting until evening to get to the base. I called the intelligence officer and told him about the mix-up. He told me to hang on right there and he would fly over and pick me up in a T-33 jet.
As soon as we were in the air, on the return trip, I called the intelligence officer on the interphone and asked him what was going on. What did he have? Why all the mystery? He tried to tell me, but the interphone wasn't working too well and I couldn't understand what he was saying. Finally he told me to wait until we returned to his office and I could read the report myself.
Report! If he had a UFO report why hadn't he sent it in to Project Blue Book as he usually did?
We landed at the fighter base, checked in our parachutes, Mae West's, and helmets, and drove over to his office. There were several other people in the office, and they greeted me with the usual question, "What's new on the flying saucer front?" I talked with them for a while, but was getting impatient to find out what was on the intelligence officer's mind. I was just about to ask him about the mysterious report when he took me to one side and quietly asked me not to mention it until everybody had gone.
Once we were alone, the intelligence officer shut the door, went over to his safe, and dug out a big, thick report. It was the standard Air Force reporting form that is used for all intelligence reports, including UFO reports. The intelligence officer told me that this was the only existing copy. He said that he had been told to destroy all copies, but had saved one for me to read.
With great curiosity, I took the report and started to read. What had happened at this fighter base?
About ten o'clock in the morning, one day a few weeks before, a radar near the base had picked up an unidentified target. It was an odd target in that it came in very fast - about 700 miles per hour - and then slowed down to about 100 miles per hour. The radar showed that it was located northeast of the airfield, over a sparsely settled area.
Unfortunately the radar station didn't have any height finding equipment. The operators knew the direction of the target and its distance from the station but they didn't know its altitude. They reported the target, and two F-86's were scrambled.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.3
The radar picked up the F-86's soon after they were airborne, and had begun to direct them into the target when the target started to fade on the radarscope. At the time several of the operators thought that this fade was caused by the target's losing altitude rapidly and getting below the radar's beam. Some of the other operators thought that it was a high flying target and that it was fading just because it was so high.
In the debate which followed, the proponents of the high flying theory won out, and the F-86's were told to go up to 40,000 feet. But before the aircraft could get to that altitude, the target had been completely lost on the radarscope.
The F-86's continued to search the area at 40,000 feet, but could see nothing. After a few minutes the aircraft ground controller called the F-86's and told one to come down to 20,000 feet, the other to 5,000 feet, and continue the search, The two jets made a quick letdown, with one pilot stopping at 20,000 feet and the other heading for the deck.
The second pilot, who was going down to 5,000 feet, was just beginning to pull out when he noticed a flash below and ahead of him. He flattened out his dive a little and headed toward the spot where he had seen the light. As he closed on the spot he suddenly noticed what he first thought was a weather balloon. A few seconds later be realized that it couldn't be a balloon because it was staying ahead of him. Quite an achievement for a balloon, since he had built up a lot of speed in his dive and now was flying almost straight and level at 3,000 feet and was traveling "at the Mach."
Again the pilot pushed the nose of the F-86 down and started after the object. He closed fairly fast, until he came to within an estimated 1,000 yards. Now he could get a good look at the object. Although it had looked like a balloon from above, a closer view showed that it was definitely round and flat saucer shaped. The pilot described it as being "like a doughnut without a hole."
As his rate of closure began to drop off, the pilot knew that the object was picking up speed. But he pulled in behind it and started to follow. Now he was right on the deck.
About this time the pilot began to get a little worried. What should he do? He tried to call his buddy, who was flying above him somewhere in the area at 20,000 feet. He called two or three times but could get no answer. Next he tried to call the ground controller but he was too low for his radio to carry that far. Once more he tried his buddy at 20,000 feet, but again no luck.
By now he had been following the object for about two minutes and during this time had closed the gap between them to approximately 500
4. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
yards. But this was only momentary. Suddenly the object began to pull away, slowly at first, then faster. The pilot, realizing that he couldn't catch it, wondered what to do next.
When the object traveled out about 1,000 yards, the pilot suddenly made up his mind - he did the only thing that he could do to stop the UFO. It was like a David about to do battle with a Goliath, but he had to take a chance. Quickly charging his guns, he started shooting. . . . A moment later the object pulled up into a climb and in a few seconds it was gone. The pilot climbed to 10,000 feet, called the other F-86, and now was able to contact his buddy. They joined up and went back to their base.
As soon as he had landed and parked, the F-86 pilot went into operations to tell his story to his squadron commander. The mere fact that he had fired his guns was enough to require a detailed report, as a matter of routine. But the circumstances under which the guns actually were fired created a major disturbance at the fighter base that day.
After the squadron commander had heard his pilot's story, he called the group commander, the colonel, and the intelligence officer. They heard the pilot's story.
For some obscure reason there was a "personality clash," the intelligence officer's term, between the pilot and the squadron commander. This was obvious, according to the report I was reading, because the squadron commander immediately began to tear the story apart and accuse the pilot of "cracking up," or of just "shooting his guns for the hell of it and using the wild story as a cover-up."
Other pilots in the squadron, friends of the accused pilot - including the intelligence officer and a flight surgeon - were called in to "testify." All of these men were aware of the fact that in certain instances a pilot can "flip" for no good reason, but none of them said that he had noticed any symptoms of mental crack-up in the unhappy pilot.
None, except the squadron commander. He kept pounding home has idea - that the pilot was "psycho" - and used a few examples of what the report called "minor incidents" to justify his stand.
Finally the pilot who had been flying with the "accused" man was called in. He said that he had been monitoring the tactical radio channel but that he hadn't heard any calls from his buddy's low flying F-86. The squadron commander triumphantly jumped on this point, but the accused pilot tended to refute it by admitting he was so jumpy that he might not have been on the right channel. But when he was asked if he had checked or changed channels after he had lost the object and before he had finally contacted the other F-86, he couldn't remember.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.5
So ended the pilot's story and his interrogation.
The intelligence officer wrote up his report of a UFO sighting, but at the last minute, just before sending it, he was told to hold it back. He was a little unhappy about this turn of events, so he went in to see why the group commander had decided to delay sending the report to Project Blue Book.
They talked over the possible reactions to the report. If it went out it would cause a lot of excitement, maybe unnecessarily. Yet, if the pilot actually had seen what he claimed, it was vitally important to get the report in to ATIC immediately. The group commander said that he would make his decision after a talk with his executive officer. They decided not to send the report and ordered it destroyed.
When I finished reading, the intelligence officer's first comment was, "What do you think?"
Since the evaluation of the report seemed to hinge upon conflicts between personalities I didn't know, I could venture no opinion, except that the incident made up the most fascinating UFO report I'd ever seen. So I batted the intelligence officer's question back to him.
"I know the people involved," he replied, "and I don't think the pilot was nuts. I can't give you the report, because Colonel told me to destroy it. But I did think you should know about it." Later he burned the report.
The problems involved in this report are typical. There are certain definite facts that can be gleaned from it; the pilot did see something and he did shoot at something, but no matter how thoroughly you investigate the incident that something can never be positively identified. It might have been a hallucination or it might have been some vehicle from outer space; no one will ever know. It was a UFO.
The UFO story started soon after June 24, 1947, when newspapers all over the United States carried the first flying saucer report. The story told how nine very bright, disk shaped objects were seen by Kenneth Arnold, a Boise, Idaho, businessman, while he was flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, in the state of Washington. With journalistic license, reporters converted Arnold's description of the individual motion of each of the objects like "a saucer skipping across water"- into "flying saucer," a name for the objects themselves. In the eight years that have passed since Arnold's memorable sighting, the term has become so common that it is now in Webster's Dictionary and is known today in most languages in the world.
For a while after the Arnold sighting the term "flying saucer" was used to describe all disk shaped objects that were seen flashing through the
6. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
sky at fantastic speeds. Before long, reports were made of objects other than disks, and these were also called flying saucers. Today the words are popularly applied to anything seen in the sky that cannot be identified as a common, everyday object.
Thus a flying saucer can be a formation of lights, a single light, a sphere, or any other shape; and it can be any color. Performance wise, flying saucers can hover, go fast or slow, go high or low, turn 90 degree corners, or disappear almost instantaneously.
Obviously the term "flying saucer" is misleading when applied to objects of every conceivable shape and performance. For this reason the military prefers the more general, if less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short.
Officially the military uses the term "flying saucer" on only two occasions. First in an explanatory sense, as when briefing people who are unacquainted with the term "UFO": "UFO - you know- flying saucers." And second in a derogatory sense, for purposes of ridicule, as when it is observed, "He says he saw a flying saucer."
This second form of usage is the exclusive property of those persons who positively know that all UFO's are nonsense. Fortunately, for the sake of good manners if for no other reason, the ranks of this knowing category are constantly dwindling. One by one these people drop out, starting with the instant they see their first UFO.
Some weeks after the first UFO was seen on June 24, 1947, the Air Force established a project to investigate and analyze all UFO reports. The attitude toward this task varied from a state of near panic, early in the life of the project, to that of complete contempt for anyone who even mentioned the words "flying saucer."
This contemptuous attitude toward "flying saucer nuts" prevailed from mid 1949 to mid 1950. During that interval many of the people who were, or had been, associated with the project believed that the public was suffering from "war nerves."
Early in 1950 the project, for all practical purposes, was closed out; at least it rated only minimum effort. Those in power now reasoned that if you didn't mention the words "flying saucers" the people would forget them and the saucers would go away. But this reasoning was false, for instead of vanishing, the UFO reports got better and better.
Airline pilots, military pilots, generals, scientists, and dozens of other people were reporting UFO's, and in greater detail than in reports of the past. Radars, which were being built for air defense, began to pick up some very unusual targets, thus lending technical corroboration to the unsubstantiated claims of human observers.
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.7
As a result of the continuing accumulation of more impressive UFO reports, official interest stirred. Early in 1951 verbal orders came down from Major General Charles P. Cabell, then Director of Intelligence for Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, to make a study reviewing the UFO situation for Air Force Headquarters.
I had been back in the Air Force about six months when this happened. During the second world war I had been a B-29 bombardier and radar operator. I went to India, China, and later to the Pacific, with the original B-29 wing. I flew two DCF's, and some Air Medals' worth of missions, got out of the Air Force after the war, and went back to college. To keep my reserve status while I was in school, I flew as a navigator in an Air Force Reserve Troop Carrier Wing.
Not long after I received my degree in aeronautical engineering, the Korean War started, and I went back on active duty. I was assigned to the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio. ATIC is responsible for keeping track of all foreign aircraft and guided missiles. ATIC also had the UFO project.
I had just finished organizing a new intelligence group when General Cabell's order to review past UFO reports came down. Lieutenant Colonel Rosengarten, who received the order at ATIC, called me in and wanted to know if I'd take the job of making the review. I accepted.
When the review was finished, I went to the Pentagon and presented my findings to Major General Samford, who had replaced General Cabell as Director of Intelligence.
ATIC soon got the word to set up a completely new project for the investigation and analysis of UFO reports. Since I had made the review of past UFO reports I was the expert, and I got the new job. It was given the code name Project Blue Book, and I was in charge of it until late in 1953. During this time members of my staff and I traveled close to half a million miles. We investigated dozens of UFO reports, and read and analyzed several thousand more. These included every report ever received by the Air Force.
For the size of the task involved Project Blue Book was always under- staffed, even though I did have ten people on my regular staff plus many paid consultants representing every field of science. All of us on Project Blue Book had Top Secret security clearances so that security was no block in our investigations. Behind this organization was a reporting network made up of every Air Force base intelligence officer and every Air Force radar station in the world, and the Air Defense Command's Ground Observer Corps. This reporting net sent Project Blue Book reports on every conceivable type of UFO, by every conceivable type of person.
8.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects
What did these people actually see when they reported that they had observed a UFO? Putting aside truly unidentifiable flying objects for the present, this question has several answers.
In many instances it has been positively proved that people have reported balloons, airplanes, stars, and many other common objects as UFO's. The people who make such reports don't recognize these common objects because something in their surroundings temporarily assumes an unfamiliar appearance.
Unusual lighting conditions are a common cause of such illusions. A balloon will glow like a "ball of fire" just at sunset. Or an airplane that is not visible to the naked eye suddenly starts to reflect the sun's rays and appears to be a "silver ball." Pilots in F-94 jet interceptors chase Venus in the daytime and fight with balloons at night, and people in Los Angeles see weird lights.
On October 8, 1954, many Los Angeles newspapers and newscasters carried an item about a group of flying saucers, bright lights, flying in a V formation. The lights had been seen from many locations over Southern California. Pilots saw them while bringing their airplanes into Los Angeles International Airport, Air Force pilots flying out of Long Beach saw them, two CBS reporters in Hollywood gave an eyewitness account, and countless people called police and civil defense officials. All of them excitedly reported lights they could not identify. The next day the Air Force identified the UFO's; they were Air Force airplanes, KC-97 aerial tankers, refueling B-47 jet bombers in flight. The reason for the weird effect that startled so many Southern Californians was that when the refueling is taking place a floodlight on the bottom of the tanker airplane lights up the bomber that is being refueled. The airplanes were flying high, and slowly, so no sound was heard; only the bright floodlights could be seen. Since most people, even other pilots, have never seen a night aerial refueling operation and could not identify the odd lights they saw, the lights became UFO's.
In other instances common everyday objects look like UFO's because of some odd quirk in the human mind. A star or planet that has been in the sky every day of the observer's life suddenly "takes off at high speed on a highly erratic flight path." Or a vapor trail from a high flying jet - seen a hundred times before by the observer - becomes a flying saucer.
Some psychologists explain such aberrations as being akin to the crowd behavior mechanism at work in the "bobby sox craze." Teen-agers don't know why they squeal and swoon when their current fetish sways and croons. Yet everybody else is squealing, so they squeal too. Maybe that great comedian, Jimmy Durante, has the answer: "Everybody wants to
Project Blue Book and the UFO Story.9
get into the act." I am convinced that a certain percentage of UFO reports come from people who see flying saucers because others report seeing them.
But this "will to see" may have deeper roots, almost religious implications, for some people. Consciously or unconsciously, they want UFO's to be real and to come from outer space. These individuals, frightened perhaps by threats of atomic destruction, or lesser fears - who knows what - act as if nothing that men can do can save the earth. Instead, they seek salvation from outer space, on the forlorn premise that flying saucer men, by their very existence, are wiser and more advanced than we.
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