A widely printed newspaper release, quoting an unnamed Air Force official in the Pentagon, said:
The "flying saucers" are one of three things:
Solar reflections on low-hanging clouds.
Small meteors that break up, their crystals catching the rays of the sun.
Icing conditions could have formed large hailstones and they might have flattened out and glided.
A follow-up, which quoted several scientists, said in essence that the unnamed Air Force official was crazy. Nobody even heard of crystallized meteors, or huge, flat
hailstones, and the solar- reflection theory was absurd.
Life, Time, Newsweek, and many other news magazines carried articles about the UFO's. Some were written with
tongue in cheek, others were not. All the articles mentioned the Air Force's mass- hysterical induced hallucinations. But a Veterans' Administration psychiatrist
publicly pooh-poohed this. "Too many people are seeing things," he said.
It was widely suggested that all the UFO's were meteors. Two Chicago astronomers queered this. Dr. Gerard Kuiper, director of the University of Chicago observatory,
was quoted as flatly saying the UFO's couldn't be meteors. "They are probably man-made," he told the Associated Press. Dr. Oliver Lee, director of
Northwestern University's observatory, agreed with Dr. Kuiper and he threw in an additional confusion factor that had been in the back of many people's minds. Maybe
they were our own aircraft.
The government had been denying that UFO's belonged to the U.S. from the first, but Dr. Vannevar Bush, the world-famous scientist, and Dr. Merle Tuve, inventor of the
proximity fuse, added their weight. "Impossible," they said.
All of this time unnamed Air Force officials were disclaiming serious interest in the UFO subject. Yet every time a newspaper reporter went out to interview a person
who had seen a UFO, intelligence agents had already been flown in, gotten the detailed story complete with sketches of the UFO, and sped back to their base to send the
report to Project Sign. Many people had supposedly been "warned" not to talk too much. The Air Force was mighty interested in hallucinations.
Thus 1947 ended with various-sized question marks in the mind of the public. If you followed flying saucers closely the question mark was big, if you just noted the
UFO story titles in the papers it was smaller, but it was there and it was growing. Probably none of the people, military or civilian, who had made