Hoax or Horror?
To the military and the public who weren't intimately associated with the higher levels of Air Force Intelligence during the summer of 1952--and few were--General
Samford's press conference seemed to indicate the peak in official interest in flying saucers. It did take the pressure off Project Blue Book--reports dropped from
fifty per day to ten a day inside of a week--but behind the scenes the press conference was only the signal for an all-out drive to find out more about the UFO. Work
on the special cameras continued on a high- priority basis, and General Samford directed us to enlist the aid of top-ranking scientists.
During the past four months we had collected some 750 comparatively well-documented reports, and we hoped that something in these reports might give us a good lead on
the UFO. My orders were to tell the scientists to whom we talked that the Air Force was officially still very much interested in the UFO and that their assistance,
even if it was only in giving us ideas and comments on the reports, was badly needed. Although the statement of the problem was worded much more loosely, in essence it
was, "Do the UFO reports we have collected indicate that the earth is being visited by a people from another planet?"
Such questions had been asked of the scientists before, but not in such a serious vein.
Then a secondary program was to be started, one of "educating" the military. The old idea that UFO reports would die out when the thrill wore off had long
been discarded. We all knew that UFO reports would continue to come in and that in order to properly evaluate them we had to have every shred of evidence. The Big Flap
had shown us that our chances of getting a definite answer on a sighting was directly proportional to the quality of the information we received from the intelligence
officers in the field.
But soon after the press conference we began to get wires from intelligence officers saying they had interpreted the newspaper accounts of General Samford's press
conference to mean that we were no longer interested in UFO reports. A few other intelligence officers had evidently also misinterpreted the general's remarks because
their reports of excellent sightings were sloppy and incomplete. All of this was bad, so to forestall any misconceived ideas about the