came up more than once.
Requests for briefings came even from the highest figure in the Air Force, Thomas K. Finletter, then the Secretary for Air. On May 8, 1952, Lieutenant Colonel R. J. Taylor of Colonel Dunn's staff and I presented an hour-long briefing to Secretary Finletter and his staff. He listened intently and asked several questions about specific sightings when the briefing was finished. If he was at all worried about the UFO's he certainly didn't show it. His only comment was, "You're doing a fine job, Captain. It must be interesting. Thank you."
Then he made the following statement for the press:
"No concrete evidence has yet reached us either to prove or disprove the existence of the so-called flying saucers. There remain, however, a number of sightings that the Air Force investigators have been unable to explain. As long as this is true, the Air Force will continue to study flying saucer reports."
In May 1952, Project Blue Book received seventy-nine UFO reports compared to ninety-nine in April. It looked as if we'd passed the peak and were now on the downhill side. The 178 reports of the past two months, not counting the thousand or so letters that we'd received directly from the public, had piled up a sizable backlog since we'd had time to investigate and analyze only the better reports. During June we planned to clear out the backlog, and then we could relax.
But never underestimate the power of a UFO. In June the big flap hit -- they began to deliver clippings in big cardboard cartons.
The Big Flap
In early June 1952, Project Blue Book was operating according to the operational plan that had been set up in January 1952. It had taken six months to put the plan into effect, and to a person who has never been indoctrinated into the ways of the military, this may seem like a long time. But consult your nearest government worker and you'll find that it was about par for the red tape course.
We had learned early in the project that about 60 per cent of the reported UFO's were actually balloons, airplanes, or astronomical bodies viewed under unusual conditions, so our operational plan was set up to quickly weed out this type of report. This would give us more time to concentrate on the unknown cases.
To weed out reports in which balloons, airplanes, and astronomical bodies were reported as UFO's, we utilized a flow of data that continually poured into Project Blue Book. We received position reports on all flights of the big skyhook balloons and, by merely picking up the telephone, we could get the details about the flight of any other research balloon or regularly scheduled weather balloon in the United States. The location of aircraft in an area where a UFO had been reported was usually checked by the intelligence officer who made the report, but we double-checked his findings by requesting the location of flights from CAA and military air bases. Astronomical almanacs and journals, star charts, and data that we got from observatories furnished us with clues to UFO's that might be astronomical bodies. All of our investigations in this category of report were double-checked by Project Bear's astronomer.
Then we had our newspaper clipping file, which gave us many clues. Hydrographic bulletins and Notams (notices to airmen), published by the government, sometimes gave us other clues. Every six hours we received a complete set of weather data. A dozen or more other sources of data that might shed some light on a reported UFO were continually being studied.
To get all this information on balloons, aircraft, astronomical bodies, and what have you, I had to co-ordinate Project Blue Book's operational plan with the Air Force's Air Weather Service, Flight Service, Research and Development Command, and Air Defense Command with the Navy's Office of Naval Research, and the aerology branch of the Bureau of Aeronautics; and with the