There are countless questions surrounding supposed alien craft, abductions and visitors from another world, with one of the most important and enduring being, does the government actually know about them?
Ever since the supposed crash of an 'alien craft' at Roswell in 1947, UFO enthusiasts have claimed that the US government at least knows extra-terrestrial intelligent life exists and at most co-operates, assists and communicates with such life.
The incident in Roswell led to a huge spike in interest with UFOs and flying saucers. Faced with this, the US Air Force developed an internal investigation which was tasked with discovering the truth behind supposed alien sightings and abductions. The project, which was dubbed Project Blue Book, consisted of over 100,000 pages of documents - and now they're available to everyone.
Amateur historian John Greenewald has spent over 20 years requesting this treasure trove of information from the government, and now he has made it available online. The BBC recently sifted through the mass of information and published their major findings. Here are some of them.
Project Blue Book Had It's Work Cut Out
Project Blue Book was a major operation in terms of the scale of its operation. It was tasked with investigating all claims to encountering alien life or UFOs. Prior to 1947, there may have only been a handful of these incidents a decade, however two major events in 1947 led to an explosion in interest.
First, was the above mentioned Roswell Incident, while a second involved a well-respected business man and pilot by the name of Kenneth Arnold. While flying over Washington state, Arnold encountered several crafts he described as "skipping like saucers" - inadvertently coining the phrase 'flying saucer.'
These high profile incidents led to many, many others, and the airforce was forced to launch an investigation. It is worth noting, that the early fear wasn't entirely to do with alien invasion. In fact, many in the military were concerned with a much more terrestrial foe - the Russians. One major fear was that all these sighting of unidentified crafts may have been connected to some new Soviet spy or aviation program.
With hysteria already running high with the onset of the Cold War, the government was eager to calm the situation. Greenewald states:
There was a lot of hysteria with the public, and that to the military and government at the time was a big threat in itself. It didn't matter if UFOs were alien or not, they were causing a panic, so [the government] had to settle everybody's nerves.
Furthermore, UFO researcher Alejandro Rojas told the BBC that the CIA and government was taking these reports seriously, with CIA chiefs publicly stating it was a real phenomenon.
Despite this, the project, which was based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, consisted of only a a handful of personnel. Over the two years, the team investigated 12,618 separate incidents.
Project Blue Book would officially close in 1969.
What Did Project Blue Book Uncover?
Although it investigated claims from extremely credible sources, including high ranking military officers and experienced civilian pilots, the vast majority of cases investigated by Project Blue Book were discovered to be nothing more than weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events and temperature inversions.
The report concludes:
- No UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security;
- There was no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as "unidentified" represented technological developments or principles beyond the range of modern scientific knowledge;
- There was no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as "unidentified" were extraterrestrial vehicles.
With this in mind, most investigations were open and shut cases, with no evidence being found for alien or terrestrial involvement. The BBC highlight two particular cases. The first, which occurred in Seattle, Washington in April 1956, involved a witness reporting a sighting of a "round, white object, one-half the size of the moon … [and] going round and round." Investigators later concluded it was nothing but a meteor.
In January 1961, a witness from Newark, New Jersey described seeing a dark grey object "about the size of a jet with no wings."
Lo and behold, it turned out to be a jet.
But Not Everything Could Be Explained...
Although the majority of Project Blue Book cases were simple to solve, others have still left investigators stumped. One particular case, which took place in Socorro, New Mexico in 1964, involved a police officer abandoning a police chase to investigate a strange craft overhead.
The craft, which he described as bearing a strange red insignia, eventually landed and two child-sized beings exited. He claims it then left, and indeed investigators did find scorch marks and trace evidence on the ground.
[Project] Blue Book labelled it unexplained; even after all these decades they still can't explain it.
Are There More Hidden Secrets?
Although the release of the Project Blue Book documents may be one of the biggest releases of UFO information yet, Greenewald states this might be the tip of the iceberg.
Indeed, some Project Blue Book documents were so redacted that only a few words were readable. Furthermore, other US entities, such as the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, also have their own UFO files which are yet to be publicly released.
Of course, those UFO enthusiasts who do believe in a major government conspiracy concerning alien visitors probably won't to be too disillusioned by the lack of findings in Project Blue Book. After all, the project was headed by a government entity, so it could have simply not released the tastiest information.