reported it. The old adage of having your cake and eating it, too, held even for the UFO.
Technically no one in Washington, besides, of course, Major General Samford and his superiors, had anything to do with making policy decisions about the operation of Project Blue Book or the handling of the UFO situation in general. Nevertheless, everyone was trying to get into the act. The split in opinions on what to do about the rising tide of UFO reports, the split that first came out in the open at General Samford's briefing, was widening every day. One group was getting dead-serious about the situation. They thought we now had plenty of evidence to back up an official statement that the UFO's were something real and, to be specific, not something from this earth. This group wanted Project Blue Book to quit spending time investigating reports from the standpoint of trying to determine if the observer of a UFO had actually seen something foreign to our knowledge and start assuming that he or she had. They wanted me to aim my investigation at trying to find out more about the UFO. Along with this switch in operating policy, they wanted to clamp down on the release of information. They thought that the security classification of the project should go up to Top Secret until we had all of the answers, then the information should be released to the public. The investigation of UFO's along these lines should be a maximum effort, they thought, and their plans called for lining up many top scientists to devote their full time to the project. Someone once said that enthusiasm is infectious, and he was right. The enthusiasm of this group took a firm hold in the Pentagon, at Air Defense Command Headquarters, on the Research and Development Board, and many other agencies throughout the government. But General Samford was still giving the orders, and he said to continue to operate just as we had--keeping an open mind to any ideas.
After the minor flurry of reports on July 1 we had a short breathing spell and found time to clean up a sizable backlog of reports. People were still seeing UFO's but the frequency of the sighting curve was dropping steadily. During the first few days of July we were getting only two or three good reports a day.
On July 5 the crew of a non-scheduled airliner made page two of many newspapers by reporting a UFO over the AEC's supersecret Hanford, Washington, installation. It was a skyhook balloon. On the twelfth a huge meteor sliced across Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri that netted us twenty or thirty reports. Even before they had stopped coming in, we had confirmation from our astronomer that the UFO was a meteor.
But forty-two minutes later there was a sighting in Chicago that wasn't so easily explained.
According to our weather records, on the night of July 12 it was hot in Chicago. At nine forty-two there were at least 400 people at Montrose Beach trying to beat the heat. Many of them were lying down looking at the stars, so that they saw the UFO as it came in from the west northwest, made a 180-degree turn directly over their heads, and disappeared over the horizon. It was a "large red light with small white lights on the side," most of the people reported. Some of them said that it changed to a single yellow light as it made its turn. It was in sight about five minutes, and during this time no one reported hearing any sound.
One of the people at the beach was the weather officer from O'Hare International Airport, an Air Force captain. He immediately called O'Hare. They checked on balloon flights and with radar, but both were negative; radar said that there had been no aircraft in the area of Montrose Beach for several hours.
I sent an investigator to Chicago, and although he came back with a lot of data on the sighting, it didn't add up to be anything known.
The next day Dayton had its first UFO sighting in a long time when a Mr. Roy T. Ellis, president of the Rubber Seal Products Company, and many other people, reported a teardrop-shaped object that hovered over Dayton for several minutes about midnight. This sighting had an interesting twist because two years later I was in Dayton and stopped in at ATIC to see a friend who is one of the technical advisers at the center.
Naturally the conversation got around to the subject of UFO's, and he asked me if I remembered this specific sighting. I did, so he went on to say that he and his wife had seen this UFO that night but they had never told anybody. He was very serious when he admitted that he had no idea what it could have been. Now I'd heard this statement a thousand times before from other people, but coming from this person, it was really something because he was as anti-saucer as anyone I knew. Then he added, "From that time on I didn't think your saucer reporters were as crazy as I used to think they were."
The Dayton sighting also created quite a stir in the press. In conjunction with the sighting, the Dayton Daily Journal had interviewed Colonel Richard H. Magee, the Dayton-Oakwood civil defense director; they wanted to know what he thought about the UFO's. The colonel's answer made news: "There's something flying around in our skies and we wish we knew what it was."
When the story broke in other papers, the colonel's affiliation with civil defense wasn't mentioned, and he became merely "a colonel from Dayton." Dayton was quickly construed by the public to mean Wright- Patterson AFB and specifically ATIC. Some people in the Pentagon screamed while others