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Edward J Ruppelt "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects"

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"I'll expedite it," means nothing will happen for at least two weeks. "I'll do it right away," means from a month to six weeks. An answer like, "I'll see what I can work out," requires writing a memo that explains what the person was going to see if he could work out, and sealing it in a time capsule for preservation so that when the answer finally does come through the future generation that receives it will know how it all started. But I underestimated the efficiency of the Air Defense Command. Inside of two weeks General Burgess had called General Garland, they'd discussed the problem, and I was back in Colorado Springs setting up a program with Colonel White's 4602nd.

The 4602nd's primary function is to interrogate captured enemy airmen during wartime; in peacetime all that they can do is participate in simulated problems. Investigating UFO reports would supplement these problems and add a factor of realism that would be invaluable in their training. The 4602nd had field teams spread out all over the United States, and these teams could travel anywhere by airplane, helicopter, canoe, jeep, or skis on a minute's notice. The field teams had already established a

232.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

working contact with the highway patrols, sheriffs' offices, police, and the other military in their respective areas, so they were in an excellent position to collect facts about a UFO report. Each member of the field teams had been especially chosen and trained in the art of interrogation, and each team had a technical specialist. We couldn't have asked for a better ally.

Project Blue Book was once more back in business. Until the formal paper work went through, our plan was that whenever a UFO report worth investigating came in we would call the 4602nd and they would get a team out right away. The team would make a thorough investigation and wire us their report. If the answer came back "Unknown," we would study the details of the sighting and, with the help of Project Bear, try to find the answer.

A few weeks after the final plans had been made with the 4602nd, I again bade farewell to Project Blue Book. In a simple ceremony on the poop deck of one of the flying saucers that I frequently have been accused of capturing, before a formation of the three-foot-tall green men that I have equally as frequently been accused of keeping prisoner, I turned my command over to Al/c Max Futch and walked out the door into civilian life with separation orders in hand.

The UFO's must have known that I was leaving because the day I found out that officers with my specialty, technical intelligence, were no longer on the critical list and that I could soon get out of the service, they really put on a show. The show they put on is still the best UFO report in the Air Force files.

I first heard about the sighting about two o'clock on the morning of August 13, 1953, when Max Futch called me from ATIC. A few minutes before a wire had come in carrying a priority just under that reserved for flashing the word the U.S. has been attacked. Max had been called over to ATIC by the OD to see the report, and he thought that I should see it. I was a little hesitant to get dressed and go out to the base, so I asked Max what he thought about the report. His classic answer will go down in UFO history, "Captain," Max said in his slow, pure Louisiana drawl, "you know that for a year I've read every flying saucer report that's come in and that I never really believed in the things." Then he hesitated and added, so fast that I could hardly understand him, "But you should read this wire." The speed with which he uttered this last statement was in itself enough to convince me. When Max talked fast, something was important.

A half hour later I was at ATIC - just in time to get a call from the Pentagon. Someone else had gotten out of bed to read his copy of the wire.

233. What Are UFO's?

I used the emergency orders that I always kept in my desk and caught the first airliner out of Dayton to Rapid City, South Dakota. I didn't call the 4602nd because I wanted to investigate this one personally. I talked to everyone involved in the incident and pieced together an amazing story.

Shortly after dark on the night of the twelfth, the Air Defense Command radar station at Ellsworth AFB, just east of Rapid City, had received a call from the local Ground Observer Corps filter center. A lady spotter at Black Hawk, about 10 miles west of Ellsworth, had reported an extremely bright light low on the horizon, off to the northeast. The radar had been scanning an area to the west, working a jet fighter in some practice patrols, but when they got the report they moved the sector scan to the northeast quadrant. There was a target exactly where the lady reported the light to be. The warrant officer, who was the duty controller for the night, told me that he'd studied the target for several minutes. He knew how weather could affect radar but this target was "well defined, solid, and bright." It seemed to be moving, but very slowly. He called for an altitude reading, and the man on the height finding radar checked his scope. He also had the target - it was at 16,000 feet.

The warrant officer picked up the phone and asked the filter center to connect him with the spotter. They did, and the two people compared notes on the UFO's position for several minutes. But right in the middle of a sentence the lady suddenly stopped and excitedly said, "It's starting to move - it's moving southwest toward Rapid."

The controller looked down at his scope and the target was beginning to pick up speed and move southwest. He yelled at two of his men to run outside and take a look. In a second or two one of them shouted back that they could both see a large bluish white light moving toward Rapid City. The controller looked down at his scope - the target was moving toward Rapid City. As all three parties watched the light and kept up a steady cross conversation of the description, the UFO swiftly made a wide sweep around Rapid City and returned to its original position in the sky.

A master sergeant. who had seen and heard the happenings told me that in all his years of duty - combat radar operations in both Europe and Korea - he'd never been so completely awed by anything. When the warrant officer had yelled down at him and asked him what he thought they should do, he'd just stood there. "After all," he told me, "what in hell could we do - they're bigger than all of us."

But the warrant officer did do something. He called to the F-84 pilot he had on combat air patrol west of the base and told him to get ready for an intercept. He brought the pilot around south of the base and gave him a course correction that would take him right into the light, which

234.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

was still at 16,000 feet. By this time the pilot had it spotted. He made the turn, and when he closed to within about 3 miles of the target, it began to move. The controller saw it begin to move, the spotter saw it begin to move and the pilot saw it begin to move - all at the same time. There was now no doubt that all of them were watching the same object.

Once it began to move, the UFO picked up speed fast and started to climb, heading north, but the F-84 was right on its tall. The pilot would notice that the light was getting brighter, and he'd call the controller to tell him about it. But the controller's answer would always be the same, "Roger, we can see it on the scope."

There was always a limit as to how near the jet could get, however. The controller told me that it was just as if the UFO had some kind of an automatic warning radar linked to its power supply. When something got too close to it, it would automatically pick up speed and pull away. The separation distance always remained about 3 miles.

The chase continued on north - out of sight of the lights of Rapid City and the base - into some very black night.

When the UFO and the F-84 got about 120 miles to the north, the pilot checked his fuel; he had to come back. And when I talked to him, he said he was damn glad that he was running out of fuel because being out over some mighty desolate country alone with a UFO can cause some worry.

Both the UFO and the F-84 had gone off the scope, but in a few minutes the jet was back on, heading for home. Then 10 or 15 miles behind it was the UFO target also coming back.

While the UFO and the F-84 were returning to the base - the F-84 was planning to land - the controller received a call from the jet interceptor squadron on the base. The alert pilots at the squadron had heard the conversations on their radio and didn't believe it. "Who's nuts up there?" was the comment that passed over the wire from the pilots to the radar people. There was an F-84 on the line ready to scramble, the man on the phone said, and one of the pilots, a World War II and Korean veteran, wanted to go up and see a flying saucer. The controller said, "O.K., go."

In a minute or two the F-84 was airborne and the controller was working him toward the light. The pilot saw it right away and closed in. Again the light began to climb out, this time more toward the northeast. The pilot also began to climb, and before long the light, which at first had been about 30 degrees above his horizontal line of sight, was now below him. He nosed the '84 down to pick up speed, but it was the same old story - as soon as he'd get within 3 miles of the UFO, it would put on a burst of speed and stay out ahead.

Even though the pilot could see the light and hear the ground controller

235. What Are UFO's?

telling him that he was above it, and alternately gaining on it or dropping back, he still couldn't believe it - there must be a simple explanation. He turned off all of his lights - it wasn't a reflection from any of the airplane's lights because there it was. A reflection from a ground light, maybe. He rolled the airplane - the position of the light didn't change. A star - he picked out three bright stars near the light and watched carefully. The UFO moved in relation to the three stars. Well, he thought to himself, if it's a real object out there, my radar should pick it up too; so he flipped on his radar ranging gun sight. In a few seconds the red light on his sight blinked on - something real and solid was in front of him. Then he was scared. When I talked to him, he readily admitted that he'd been scared. He'd met MD 109's, FW 190's and ME 262's over Germany and he'd met MIG-21's over Korea but the large, bright, bluish white light had scared him - he asked the controller if he could break off the intercept.

This time the light didn't come back.

When the UFO went off the scope it was headed toward Fargo, North Dakota, so the controller called the Fargo filter center. "Had they had any reports of unidentified lights?" he asked. They hadn't.

But in a few minutes a call came back. Spotter posts on a southwest- northeast line a few miles west of Fargo had reported a fast moving, bright bluish white light.

This was an unknown - the best.

The sighting was thoroughly investigated, and I could devote pages of detail on how we looked into every facet of the incident; but it will suffice to say that in every facet we looked into we saw nothing. Nothing but a big question mark asking what was it.

When I left Project Blue Book and the Air Force I severed all official associations with the UFO. But the UFO is like hard drink; you always seem to drift back to it. People I've met, people at work, and friends of friends are continually asking about the subject. In the past few months the circulation manager of a large Los Angeles newspaper, one of Douglas Aircraft Company's top scientists, a man who is guiding the future development of the super secret Atlas intercontinental guided missile, a movie star, and a German rocket expert have called me and wanted to get together to talk about UFO's. Some of them had seen one.

I have kept up with the activity of the UFO and Project Blue Book over the past two years through friends who are still in intelligence. Before Max Futch got out of the Air Force and went back to law school he wrote to me quite often and a part of his letters were always devoted to the latest about the UFO's.

Then I make frequent business trips to ATIC, and I always stop in to

236.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

see Captain Charles Hardin, who is now in charge of Blue Book, for a "What's new?" I always go to ATIC with the proper security clearances so I'm sure I get a straight answer to my question.

Since I left ATIC, the UFO's haven't gone away and neither has the interest. There hasn't been too much about them in the newspapers because of the present Air Force policy of silence, but they're with us. That the interest is still with us is attested to by the fact that in late 1953 Donald Keyhoe's book about UFO's, Flying Saucers From Outer Space, immediately appeared on best seller lists. The book was based on a few of our good UFO reports that were released to the press. To say that the book is factual depends entirely upon how one uses the word. The details of the specific UFO sightings that he credits to the Air Force are factual, but in his interpretations of the incidents he blasts way out into the wild blue yonder.

During the past two years the bulk of the UFO activity has taken place in Europe. I might add here that I have never seen any recent official UFO reports or studies from other countries; all of my information about the European Flap came from friends. But when these friends are in the intelligence branches of the U.S. Air Force, the RAF, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the data can be considered at least good.

The European Flap started in the summer of 1953, when reports began to pop up in England and France. Quality wise these first reports weren't too good, however. But then, like a few reports that occurred early in the stateside Big Flap of 1952, sightings began to drift in that packed a bit of a jolt. Reports came in that had been made by personal friends of the brass in the British and French Air Forces. Then some of the brass saw them. Corners of mouths started down.

In September several radar sites in the London area picked up unidentified targets streaking across the city at altitudes of from 44,000 to 68,000 feet. The crews who saw the targets said, "Not weather," and some of these crews had been through the bloody Battle of Britain. They knew their radar.

In October the crew of a British European Airways airliner reported that a "strange aerial object" had paced their twin-engined Elizabethan for thirty minutes. Then on November 3, about two thirty in the afternoon, radar in the London area again picked up targets. This time two Vampire jets were scrambled and the pilots saw a "strange aerial object" The men at the radar site saw it too; through their telescope it looked like a "flat, white-colored tennis ball."

The flap continued into 1954. In January those people who officially keep track of the UFO's pricked up their ears when the report of two

237. What Are UFO's?

Swedish airline pilots came in. The pilots had gotten a good look before the UFO had streaked into a cloud bank. It looked like a discus with a hump in the middle.

On through the spring reports poured out of every country in Europe. Some were bad, some were good.

On July 3, 1954, at eight fifteen in the morning, the captain, the officers and 463 passengers on a Dutch ocean liner watched a "greenish colored, saucer shaped object about half the size of a full moon" as it sped across the sky and disappeared into a patch of high clouds.

There was one fully documented and substantiated case of a "landing" during the flap. On August 25 two young ladies in Mosjoen, Norway, made every major newspaper in the world when they encountered a "saucer- man." They said that they were picking berries when suddenly a dark man, with long shaggy hair, stepped out from behind some bushes. He was friendly; he stepped right up to them and started to talk rapidly. The two young ladies could understand English but they couldn't understand him. At first they were frightened, but his smile soon "disarmed" them. He drew a few pictures of flying saucers and pointed up in the sky. "He was obviously trying to make a point," one of the young ladies said.

A few days later it was discovered that the man from "outer space" was a lost USAF helicopter pilot who was flying with NATO forces in Norway.

As I've always said, "Ya gotta watch those Air Force pilots - especially those shaggy haired ones from Brooklyn."

The reporting spread to Italy, where thousands of people in Rome saw a strange cigar shaped object hang over the city for forty minutes. Newspapers claimed that Italian Air Force radar had the UFO on their scopes, but as far as I could determine, this was never officially acknowledged.

In December a photograph of two UFO's over Taormina, Sicily, appeared in many newspapers. The picture showed three men standing on a bridge, with a fourth running up with a camera. All were intently watching two disk shaped objects. The photo looked good, but there was one flaw, the men weren't looking at the UFO's; they were looking off to the right of them. I'm inclined to agree with Captain Hardin of Blue Book - the photographer just fouled up on his double exposure.

Sightings spread across southern Europe, and at the end of October, the Yugoslav Government expressed official interest. Belgrade newspapers said that a "thoughtful inquiry" would be set up, since reports had come from "control tower operators, weather stations and hundreds of farmers." But the part of the statement that swung the most weight was, "Scientists in astronomical observatories have seen these strange objects with their own eyes."

238.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

During 1954 and the early part of 1955 my friends in Europe tried to keep me up-to-date on all of the better reports, but this soon approached a full time job. Airline pilots saw them, radar picked them up, and military pilots chased them. The press took sides, and the controversy that had plagued the U.S. since 1947 bloomed forth in all its confusion.

An ex-Air Chief Marshal in the RAF, Lord Dowding, went to bat for the UFO's. The Netherlands Air Chief of Staff said they can't be. Herman Oberth, the father of the German rocket development, said that the UFO's were definitely interplanetary vehicles.

In Belgium a senator put the screws on the Secretary of Defense - he wanted an answer. The Secretary of Defense questioned the idea that the saucers were "real" and said that the military wasn't officially interested. In France a member of parliament received a different answer - the French military was interested. The French General Staff had set up a committee to study UFO reports.

In Italy, Clare Boothe Luce, American Ambassador to Italy, said that she had seen a UFO and had no idea what it could be.

Halfway around the world, in Australia, the UFO's were busy too. At Canberra Airport the pilot of an RAAF Hawker Sea Fury and a ground radar station teamed up to get enough data to make an excellent radar visual report.

In early 1955 the flap began to die down about as rapidly as it had flared up, but it had left its mark - many more believers. Even the highly respected British aviation magazine, Aeroplane, had something to say. One of the editors took a long, hard look at the over-all UFO picture and concluded, "Really, old chaps- I don't know."

Probably the most unique part of the whole European Flap was the fact that the Iron Curtain countries were having their own private flap. The first indications came in October 1954, when Rumanian newspapers blamed the United States for launching a drive to induce a "flying saucer psychosis" in their country. The next month the Hungarian Government hauled an "expert" up in front of the microphone so that he could explain to the populace that UFO's don't really exist because, "all 'flying saucer' reports originate in the bourgeois countries, where they are invented by the capitalist warmongers with a view to drawing the people's attention away from their economic difficulties."

Next the U.S.S.R. itself took up the cry along the same lines when the voice of the Soviet Army, the newspaper Red Star, denounced the UFO's as, you guessed it, capitalist propaganda.

In 1955 the UFO's were still there because the day before the all important May Day celebration, a day when the Soviet radio and TV are

239. What Are UFO's?

normally crammed with programs plugging the glory of Mother Russia to get the peasants in the mood for the next day, a member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences had to get on the air to calm the people's fears. He left out Wall Street and Dulles this time - UFO's just don't exist.

It was interesting to note that during the whole Iron Curtain Flap, not one sighting or complimentary comment about the UFO's was made over the radio or in the newspapers; yet the flap continued. The reports were obviously being passed on by word of mouth. This fact seems to negate the theory that if the newspaper reporters and newscasters would give up the UFO's would go away. The people in Russia were obviously seeing something.

While the European Flap was in progress, the UFO's weren't entirely neglecting the United States. The number of reports that were coming into Project Blue Book were below average, but there were reports. Many of them would definitely be classed as good, but the best was a report from a photo reconnaissance B-29 crew that encountered a UFO almost over Dayton.

About 11:00 A.M. on May 24, 1954, an RB-29 equipped with some new aerial cameras took off from Wright Field, one of the two airfields that make up Wright-Patterson AFB, and headed toward the Air Force's photographic test range in Indiana. At exactly twelve noon they were at 16,000 feet, flying west, about 15 miles northwest of Dayton. A major, a photo officer, was in the nose seat of the '29. All of the gun sights and the bombsight in the nose had been taken out, so it was like sitting in a large picture window - except you just can't get this kind of a view anyplace else. The major was enjoying it. He was leaning forward, looking down, when he saw an extremely bright circular shaped object under and a little behind the airplane. It was so bright that it seemed to have a mirror finish. He couldn't tell how far below him it was but he was sure that it wasn't any higher than 6,000 feet above the ground, and it was traveling fast, faster than the B-29. It took only about six seconds to cross a section of land, which meant that it was going about 600 miles an hour.

The major called the crew and told them about the UFO, but neither the pilot nor the copilot could see it because it was now directly under the B-29. The pilot was just in the process of telling him that he was crazy when one of the scanners in an aft blister called in; he and the other scanner could also see the UFO.

Being a photo ship, the RB-29 had loaded cameras - so the logical thing to do would be to take a picture, but during a UFO sighting logic sometimes gets shoved into the background. In this case, however, it

240.The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

didn't, and the major reached down, punched the button on the intervalometer, and the big vertical camera in the aft section of the airplane clicked off a photo before the UFO sped away.

The photo showed a circular shaped blob of light exactly as the major had described it to the RB-29 crew. It didn't show any details of the UFO because the UFO was too bright; it was completely overexposed on the negative. The circular shape wasn't sharp either; it had fuzzy edges, but this could have been due to two things: its extreme brightness, or the fact that it was high, close to the RB-29, and out of focus.

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Not all scientists were in agreement. According to Ruppelt, some of the scientists who sat in on the UFO hearing as spectators, felt that the panel was definitely prejudiced – “afraid to stick their necks out.” 


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