The Era of Confusion Begins
On September 23, 1947, the chief of the Air Technical Intelligence Center, one of the Air Force's most highly specialized intelligence units, sent a letter to the
Commanding General of the then Army Air Forces.
The letter was in answer to the Commanding General's verbal request to make a preliminary study of the reports of unidentified flying objects. The letter said that after a preliminary study of UFO
reports, ATIC concluded that, to quote from the letter, "the reported phenomena were real." The letter strongly urged that a permanent project be established at ATIC to investigate and
analyze future UFO reports. It requested a priority for the project, a registered code name, and an over-all security classification. ATICs request was granted and Project Sign, the forerunner of
Project Grudge and Project Blue Book, was launched. It was given a 2A priority, 1A being the highest priority an Air Force project could have. With this the Air Force dipped into the most prolonged
and widespread controversy it has ever, or may ever, encounter. The Air Force grabbed the proverbial bear by the tail and to this day it hasn't been able to let loose.
The letter to the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces from the chief of ATIC had used the word "phenomena." History has shown that this was not a too
well-chosen word. But on September 23, 1947, when the letter was written, ATICs intelligence specialists were confident that within a few months or a year they would
have the answer to the question, "What are UFO's?" The question, "Do UFO's exist?" was never mentioned. The only problem that confronted the people
at ATIC was, "Were the UFO's of Russian or interplanetary origin?" Either case called for a serious, secrecy-shrouded project. Only top people at ATIC were
assigned to Project Sign.
Although a formal project for UFO investigation wasn't set up until September 1947, the Air Force had been vitally interested in UFO reports ever since June 24, 1947,
the day Kenneth Arnold made the original UFO report.
As Arnold's story of what he saw that day has been handed down by the bards of saucerism, the true facts have been warped, twisted, and changed. Even some points in
Arnold's own account of his sighting as published in his book, The Coming of the Saucers, do not jibe with what the official files say he told the
Air Force in 1947.