Many famous names were quoted. The late General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, then Chief of Staff of the Air Force, had seen a flying saucer but it was just a reflection on the windshield of his B-17. General Lauris Norstad's UFO was a reflection of a star on a cloud, and General Curtis E. Le May found out that one out of six UFO's was a balloon; Colonel McCoy, then chief of ATIC, had seen lots of UFO's. All were reflections from distant airplanes. In other words, nobody who is anybody in the Air Force believes in flying saucers.
Figures in the top echelons of the military had spoken.
A few hoaxes and crackpot reports rounded out Mr. Shallet's article.
The reaction to the article wasn't what the Air Force and ATIC expected. They had thought that the public would read the article and toss it, and all thoughts of UFO's, into the trash can. But they didn't. Within a few days the frequency of UFO reports hit an all- time high. People, both military and civilian, evidently didn't much care what Generals Vandenberg, Norstad, Le May, or Colonel McCoy thought; they didn't believe what they were seeing were hallucinations, reflections, or balloons. What they were seeing were UFO's, whatever UFO's might be.
I heard many times from ex-Project Grudge people that Shallet had "crossed" them, he'd vaguely mentioned that there might be a case for the UFO. This made him pro-saucer.
A few days after the last installment of the Post article the Air Force gave out a long and detailed press release completely debunking UFO's, but this had no effect. It only seemed to add to the confusion.
The one thing that Shallet's article accomplished was to plant a seed of doubt in many people's minds. Was the Air Force telling the truth about UFO's? The public and a large percentage of the military didn't know what was going on behind ATIC's barbed-wire fence but they did know that a lot of reliable people had seen UFO's. Airline pilots are considered responsible people--airline pilots had seen UFO's. Experienced military pilots and ground officers are responsible people--they'd seen UFO's. Scientists, doctors, lawyers, merchants, and plain old Joe Doakes had seen UFO's, and their friends knew that they were responsible people. Somehow these facts and the tone of the Post article didn't quite jibe, and when things don't jibe, people get suspicious.
In those people who had a good idea of what was going on behind ATIC's barbed wire, the newspaper reporters and writers with the "usually reliable sources," the Post article planted a bigger seed of doubt. Why the sudden change in policy they wondered? If UFO's were so serious a few months ago, why the sudden debunking? Maybe Shallet's story was a put-up job for the Air Force. Maybe the security had been tightened. Their sources of information
were reporting that many people in the military did not quite buy the Shallet article. The seed of doubt began to grow, and some of these writers began to start "independent investigations" to get the "true" story. Research takes time, so during the summer and fall of 1949 there wasn't much apparent UFO activity.
As the writers began to poke around for their own facts, Project Grudge lapsed more and more into a period of almost complete inactivity. Good UFO reports continued to come in at the rate of about ten per month but they weren't being verified or investigated. Most of them were being discarded. There are few, if any, UFO reports for the middle and latter part of 1949 in the ATIC files. Only the logbook, showing incoming reports, gives any idea of the activity of this period. The meager effort that was being made was going into a report that evaluated old UFO reports, those received prior to the spring of 1949. Project Grudge thought that they were writing a final report on the UFO's.
From the small bits of correspondence and memos that were in the ATIC files, it was apparent that Project Grudge thought that the UFO was on its way out. Any writers inquiring about UFO activity were referred to the debunking press release given out just after the Post article had been published. There was no more to say. Project Grudge thought they were winning the UFO battle; the writers thought that they were covering up a terrific news story--the story that the Air Force knew what flying saucers were and weren't telling.
By late fall 1949 the material for several UFO stories had been collected by writers who had been traveling all over the United States talking to people who had seen UFO's. By early winter the material had been worked up into UFO stories. In December the presses began to roll. True magazine "scooped" the world with their story that UFO's were from outer space.
The True article, entitled, "The Flying Saucers Are Real," was written by Donald Keyhoe. The article opened with a hard punch. In the first paragraph Keyhoe concluded that after eight months of extensive research he had found evidence that the earth was being closely scrutinized by intelligent beings. Their vehicles were the so- called flying saucers. Then he proceeded to prove his point. His argument was built around the three classics: the Mantell, the Chiles- Whitted, and the Gorman incidents. He took each sighting, detailed the "facts," ripped the official Air Force conclusions to shreds, and presented his own analysis. He threw in a varied assortment of technical facts that gave the article a distinct, authoritative flavor. This, combined with the fact that True had the name for printing the truth, hit the reading public like an 8-inch howitzer. Hours after it appeared in subscribers' mailboxes and on the newsstands, radio and TV commentators and newspapers were giving it a big play. UFO's were back in