When we got the report at ATIC, our first reaction was that the master sergeants had seen a large meteor. From the evidence I had written off, as meteors, all previous similar UFO reports from this air base.
The sergeants' report, however, contained one bit of information that completely changed the previous picture. At the time of the sighting there had been a solid 6,000-foot-thick overcast at 4,700 feet. And meteors don't go that low.
A few quick calculations gave a rather fantastic answer. If the object was just at the base of the clouds it would have been 10,000 feet from the two observers and traveling 1,400 miles per hour.
But regardless of the speed, the story was still fantastic. The object was no jet airplane because there was no sound. It was not a searchlight because there were none on the air base. It was not an automobile spotlight because a spotlight will not produce the type of light the sergeants described. As a double check, however, both men were questioned on this point. They stated firmly that they had seen hundreds of searchlights and spotlights playing on clouds, and that this was not what they saw.
Beyond these limited possibilities the sergeants' UFO discourages fruitful speculation. The object remains unidentified.
The UFO reports made by the two colonels and the two master sergeants are typical of hundreds of other good UFO reports which carry the verdict, "Conclusion unknown."
Some of these UFO reports have been publicized, but many have not. Very little information pertaining to UFO's was withheld from the press -- if the press knew of the occurrence of specific sightings. Our policy on releasing information was to answer only direct questions from the press. If the press didn't know about a given UFO incident, they naturally couldn't ask questions about it. Consequently such stories were never released. In other instances, when the particulars of a UFO sighting were released, they were only the bare facts about what was reported. Any additional information that might have been developed during later investigations and analyses was not released.
There is a great deal of interest in UFO's and the interest shows no signs of diminishing. Since the first flying saucer skipped across the sky in the summer of 1947, thousands of words on this subject have appeared in every newspaper and most magazines in the United States. During a six-month period in 1952 alone 148 of the nation's leading newspapers carried a total of over 16,000 items about flying saucers.
During July 1952 reports of flying saucers sighted over Washington, D.C.,
cheated the Democratic National Convention out of precious headline space.
The subject of flying saucers, which has generated more unscientific behavior than any other topic of modern times, has been debated at the meetings of professional scientific societies, causing scientific tempers to flare where unemotional objectivity is supposed to reign supreme.
Yet these thousands of written words and millions of spoken words -- all attesting to the general interest -- have generated more heat than light. Out of this avalanche of print and talk, the full, factual, true story of UFO's has emerged only on rare occasions. The general public, for its interest in UFO's, has been paid off in misinformation.
Many civilian groups must have sensed this, for while I was chief of Project Blue Book I had dozens of requests to speak on the subject of UFO's. These civilian requests had to be turned down because of security regulations.
I did give many official briefings, however, behind closed doors, to certain groups associated with the government -- all of them upon request.
The subject of UFO's was added to a regular series of intelligence briefings given to students at the Air Force's Command and Staff School, and to classes at the Air Force's Intelligence School.
I gave briefings to the technical staff at the Atomic Energy Commission's Los Alamos laboratory, where the first atomic bomb was built. The theater where this briefing took place wouldn't hold all of the people who tried to get in, so the briefing was recorded and replayed many times. The same thing happened at AEC's Sandia Base, near Albuquerque.
Many groups in the Pentagon and the Office of Naval Research requested UFO briefings. Civilian groups, made up of some of the nation's top scientists and industrialists, and formed to study special military problems, worked in a UFO briefing. Top Air Force commanders were given periodic briefings.
Every briefing I gave was followed by a discussion that lasted anywhere from one to four hours.
In addition to these, Project Blue Book published a classified monthly report on UFO activity. Requests to be put on distribution for this report were so numerous that the distribution had to be restricted to major Air Force Command Headquarters.
This interest was not caused by any revolutionary information that was revealed in the briefings or reports. It stemmed only from a desire to get the facts about an interesting subject.
Many aspects of the UFO problem were covered in these official briefings. I would give details of many of the better reports we received, our conclusions