Civil Aeronautics Administration, Bureau of Standards, several astronomical observatories, and our own Project Bear. Our entire operational plan was similar to a Model A Ford I had while I was in high school--just about the time you would get one part working, another part would break down.
When a report came through our screening process and still had the "Unknown" tag on it, it went to the MO file, where we checked its characteristics against other reports. For example, on May 25 we had a report from Randolph AFB, Texas. It went through the screening process and came out "Unknown"; it wasn't a balloon, airplane, or astronomical body. So then it went to the MO file. It was a flock of ducks reflecting the city lights. We knew that the Texas UFO's were ducks because our MO file showed that we had an identical report from Moorhead, Minnesota, and the UFO's at Moorhead were ducks.
Radar reports that came into Blue Book went to the radar specialists of ATIC's electronics branch.
Sifting through reams of data in search of the answers to the many reports that were pouring in each week required many hours of overtime work, but when a report came out with the final conclusion, "Unknown," we were sure that it was unknown.
To operate Project Blue Book, I had four officers, two airmen, and two civilians on my permanent staff. In addition, there were three scientists employed full time on Project Bear, along with several others who worked part time. In the Pentagon, Major Fournet, who had taken on the Blue Book liaison job as an extra duty, was now spending full time on it. If you add to this the number of intelligence officers all over the world who were making preliminary investigations and interviewing UFO observers, Project Blue Book was a sizable effort.
Only the best reports we received could be personally investigated in the field by Project Blue Book personnel. The vast majority of the reports had to be evaluated on the basis of what the intelligence officer who had written the report had been able to uncover, or what data we could get by telephone or by mailing out a questionnaire. Our instructions for "what to do before the Blue Book man arrives," which had been printed in many service publications, were beginning to pay off and the reports were continually getting more detailed.
The questionnaire we were using in June 1952 was the one that had recently been developed by Project Bear. Project Bear, along with psychologists from a midwestern university, had worked on it for five months. Many test models had been tried before it reached its final form -- the standard questionnaire that Blue
Book is using today. It ran eight pages and had sixty-eight questions which
were booby- trapped in a couple of places to give us a cross check on the reliability of the reporter as an observer. We received quite a few questionnaires answered in such a way that it was obvious that the observer was drawing heavily on his imagination.
From this standard questionnaire the project worked up two more specialized types. One dealt with radar sightings of UFO's, the other with sightings made from airplanes.
In Air Force terminology a "flap" is a condition, or situation, or state of being of a group of people characterized by an advanced degree of confusion that has not quite yet reached panic proportions. It can be brought on by any number of things, including the unexpected visit of an inspecting general, a major administrative reorganization, the arrival of a hot piece of intelligence information, or the dramatic entrance of a well-stacked female into an officers' club bar.
In early June 1952 the Air Force was unknowingly in the initial stages of a flap--a flying saucer flap -- the flying saucer flap of 1952. The situation had never been duplicated before, and it hasn't been duplicated since. All records for the number of UFO reports were not just broken, they were disintegrated. In 1948, 167 UFO reports had come into ATIC; this was considered a big year. In June 1952 we received 149. During the four years the Air Force had been in the UFO business, 615 reports had been collected. During the "Big Flap" our incoming-message log showed 717 reports.
To anyone who had anything to do with flying saucers, the summer of 1952 was just one big swirl of UFO reports, hurried trips, midnight telephone calls, reports to the Pentagon, press interviews, and very little sleep.
If you can pin down a date that the Big Flap started, it would probably be about June 1.
It was also on June 1 that we received a good report of a UFO that had been picked up on radar. June 1 was a Sunday, but I'd been at the office all day getting ready to go to Los Alamos the next day. About 5:00P.M. the telephone rang and the operator told me that I had a long-distance call from California. My caller was the chief of a radar test section for Hughes Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, and he was very excited about a UFO he had to report.
That morning he and his test crew had been checking out a new late- model radar to get it ready for some tests they planned to run early Monday morning. To see if their set was functioning properly, they had been tracking jets in the Los Angeles area. About midmorning, the Hughes test engineer told me, the jet