|In formal logic, a contradiction is the signal of defeat: but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress toward victory. – Alfred North Whitehead
It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one.
– Sigmund Freud
There is a skeleton in every house.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
The UFO problem is a real one. It has involved military personnel around the world for more than fifty years, and is wrapped in secrecy.
Over the years, however, enough pieces of the puzzle have emerged to give us a sense of what the picture looks like. What I have tried to do is very simple: to use as many of those pieces as possible in constructing a clear, straightforward, historical narrative of the UFO problem, focusing on the national security dimensions.
Considering the number of books about UFOs, it is curious that one like this is so rare. And yet it is. Although there are some excellent sources about this subject, much of the field’s writing is rather insular, so that few people are acquainted with it.
I believe that this book, on the contrary, will be useful to experienced researchers as well as those with little prior knowledge of the subject.
I have tried to weave together three strands of narrative that have important relationships to one another:
(1) UFO reports themselves, with an emphasis on military encounters
(2) the response to UFOs by national security organizations in the U.S.
(3) additional activities by American national security groups that, while not directly UFO-related, still provide important context to the problem, and at times unique insights and connections
Fundamentally, this is a book about the concern that military-intelligence organizations have toward UFOs, and their concealment of that fact from the public.
Despite the great amount of information I’ve presented in this book (one of my readers called it “staggering”), I have tried to make it easy. Each of the book’s nine chapters is broken down into a manageable number of sub-chapters, making these 500-plus pages a bit more digestible. I also prepared an appendix listing all of the military UFO encounters described in this book – nearly 300. Mainly, however, I have expended as much energy as possible to make this book concise and informative. Your time as a reader is valuable. I have no desire to waste it.
I have selected the period of 1941 to 1973 for this first volume, and intend to complete a second volume that will take the story through the remainder of the 20th century. The early period is especially important to understand, if for no other reason than to analyze the question of UFOs as experimental technology. Today, everyone understands there are secret experimental aircraft that might pass for UFOs.
Whether this was the case in the mid-20th century is explored in the narrative of this book. The implications are important, if one concedes UFOs to be objects, and not merely natural phenomena. The early period is also important because it was still possible in some instances to obtain first-rate information from inside sources, much of which received confirmation in later years. UFO information was always subject to secrecy protocols, but such secrecy was not necessarily as complete in the early period as it became later.
I have researched this topic thoroughly, almost exhaustively. Although all the source material for this book has already been in the public domain, much of it has been ignored for years, even decades.
I suspect, therefore, that even some experienced UFO researchers will be startled by this book’s contents, or at least provoked by the implications derived from unique combinations of sources.
THE PROBLEM OF UFOs
Because the subject of UFOs has become little more than a cultural joke, it is important to stress at the outset why it is not a joke, not entertainment, but something worthy of serious attention.
At the same time, I want to make it clear that what I offer in these pages is not so much a definitive answer to the subject, but my interpretation of the available facts.
Although stories of strange objects in the sky go far back in time, the problem received little attention until the Second World War. At that time, military personnel from Allied and Axis countries reported unconventional objects in the sky, eventually known as foo fighters. In retrospect, this development is not so surprising.
First, human aviation had become widespread for the first time. Above the clouds, thousands of pilots suddenly had the kind of visibility that no one ever had before. A second reason was the invention of radar, which extended the range of human vision by electronic means. Moreover, it seemed reasonable to assume that the odd sightings were related to the war itself, perhaps experimental technology.
One might have expected such sightings to vanish after the war’s end in 1945. Instead, they increased. In Europe in 1946, then America in 1947, people saw and reported objects that could not be explained in any conventional sense. Wherever sightings occurred, military authorities dominated the investigations, and for perfectly understandable reasons. Unknown objects, frequently tracked on radar and observed visually, were flying within one’s national borders and, in the case of the United States, over sensitive military installations. The war was over. What was going on here?
Initially, some Americans feared that the Soviet Union might be behind the “flying saucer” wave. This possibility was studied, then rejected. At a time when the world’s fastest aircraft approached the speed of 600 mph, some of these objects exceeded – or appeared to exceed – 1,000 mph. What’s more, they maneuvered like no aircraft could, including right angle turns, stopping on a dime, and accelerating instantly. Could the Soviets really have built something like that? If so, why fly them over all over America and Western Europe? To experts, the idea seemed farfetched at best, and fifty years later, their conclusion stands.
If not Soviet, could the objects have been American?
The possibility was studied and rejected for the same reasons. The speed of sound was not broken until October of 1947: was it really credible that, prior to this, the Americans had secretly discovered a hypersonic anti-gravity technology?
During the UFO wave of 1947, all indications are that there were multiple, simultaneous investigations within the American military and intelligence community of these flying saucers. Although the Air Force was officially charged with investigating them, it was never the only game in town. Every service reported and investigated sightings. The FBI investigated UFOs for a while, and by 1948 at the latest, the CIA initiated an ongoing interest.
By the end of 1947, a contingent of analysts at the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base believed that UFOs were extraterrestrial. ATIC was the Air Force’s chief center for evaluating new technology, and as such was a key player in the early investigation of UFOs.
By the summer of 1948, this team prepared an “Estimate of the Situation” that landed on the desk of Air Force Commander Hoyt Vandenberg, stating the extraterrestrial thesis. As the story goes, Vandenberg rejected it, either for lack of proof, or because it did not state his desired conclusion. Either way, he made it clear that the Air Force would not accept speculation about extraterrestrials as a solution to UFOs.
Of course, people continued to see these things and wonder what they were. In the summer of 1952, for instance, UFO sightings were so frequent and often of such high quality, it actually appeared to some in the Air Force that an invasion might be under way. Could it really be aliens?
With some help from the secret CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel of January 1953, the Air Force greatly improved censorship over the problem. Still, it never quite went away. Civilian organizations emerged to collect and analyze interesting UFO reports. Complicating matters was the fact that the Air Force had backed itself into a corner.
Despite its public contempt for UFOs, it had committed itself to monitoring them as a possible national security threat. Those who criticized the Air Force’s statements about UFOs – and there were many such people – frequently asked, if saucers posed no threat to national security, and existed only in the imagination, why did the Air Force create Project Blue Book to study the reports?
Then came the great UFO wave of 1965 and 1966. The density and quality of sightings made it clear that the Air Force could no longer hide behind weather balloons, swamp gas, or ball lightning. At the same time, it became equally impossible to withstand public scrutiny of the problem. The Air Force therefore funded a scientific study of UFOs by the University of Colorado, known more generally as the Condon Committee, to “settle” the matter once and for all.
After two years of suspense, the committee concluded that UFOs were not worthy of scientific study, essentially nonsense. Critics responded that the study itself was worthless, with conclusions that did not match its own data. Moreover, the committee had bad blood among its own members, which resulted in the removal of the “pro-UFO” contingent mid-way through the project. It strongly appeared that the project’s leadership was set on a negative conclusion from the beginning. Rumors spread about control over the committee, either by the Air Force or CIA.
As messy as the Condon Committee was, its report gave the Air Force precisely what it needed: justification to close Blue Book. In December, 1969, the Air Force announced it no longer investigated UFOs. The major civilian investigative organizations also declined rapidly, and people who saw UFOs now had scarcely anywhere to turn.
Let us pause here to assess the situation. What we can see is that, at some point during the mid-1940s, the intelligence apparatus of the United States, as well as of several other nations, had reason to believe that there were artifacts in the skies that did not originate from America, Russia, Germany, or any other country.
Within the U.S., these objects violated some highly sensitive military air space, and did not appear to be natural phenomena.
One may presume that the affected national security authorities made it an immediate obsession to determine the nature and purpose of these objects, and we may infer that the issue probably became a deep secret by 1946, or 1947 at the latest.
Some will dismiss this all as “conspiracy theory,” one of many dotting the American landscape. In popular culture, the very term serves as an automatic dismissal, as though no one ever acts in secret.
Let us bring some perspective and common sense to this issue.
The United States is comprised of large organizations – corporations, bureaucracies, “interest groups” and the like – which are conspiratorial by nature. That is, they are hierarchical, their important decisions are made in secret by a few key decision-makers, and they are not above lying about their activities. Such is the nature of organizational behavior. “Conspiracy,” in this key sense, is a way of life around the globe.
Within the world’s military and intelligence apparatuses, this tendency is magnified to the greatest extreme. During the 1940s, while the military and its scientists developed the world’s most awesome weapons in complete secrecy, the UFO problem descended, as it were, into their lap. Would they be interested in unknown objects snooping around their restricted air space? Would they want to restrict the information they acquired? There is no definite answer, but the known facts indicate this was so.
If we assume, then, that there is a UFO conspiracy, we may ask where it is. Is there a central control group, for example, managing the problem? Perhaps yes, perhaps no.
It is possible, even plausible, that no one holding public office today knows what is going on. It may be that a UFO control group existed at one time within the Department of Defense or the CIA, but there is no absolute reason why such a situation must exist today.
Not only is secrecy within those circles axiomatic, but information is so highly compartmentalized that it is easy to imagine how various strands of UFO information could fall into dozens of semi-isolated domains.
Within the military, secrecy remains the rule regarding UFOs. Closing down Project Blue Book did not end UFO reports or investigations. Indeed, the Air Force neglected to mention in its 1969 announcement that Blue Book had never been the main body investigating UFOs; after 1952, its existence was purely a public relations endeavor.
Investigations of UFOs continued, and military facilities dealing with super-sensitive information (such as the fabled Area 51 in Groom Dry Lake, Nevada) continued to be the source of UFO-related rumors. But a member of the military would be foolish in the extreme to be caught discussing any of this with the public.
In the words of 133rd Airborne Wing officer James Goodell:
“When you go to work on those locations, you sign away your constitutional rights. You sign a piece of paper saying that if you violate your security agreement, and you discuss programs that you were working on, without a trial, without the right of appeal, you’re going to go to the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary for twenty years. That’s a real big incentive to keep your mouth shut.”
This refers to the “Oath Upon Inadvertent Exposure to Classified Security Data or Information.” Taken by all personnel exposed to classified information of any kind, it is binding for life, under all circumstances. 
The military has taken the UFO issue deep under cover.
For the last thirty years, requests to the Air Force or other government bodies about UFOs have elicited the same response:
“From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force investigated Unidentified Flying Objects under Project Blue Book.
The project, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, was terminated Dec. 17, 1969. Of a total of 12,618 sightings reported to Project Blue Book, 701 remained “unidentified.”
“The decision to discontinue UFO investigations was based on an evaluation of a report prepared by the University of Colorado entitled, “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects;” a review of the University of Colorado’s report by the National Academy of Sciences; previous UFO studies and Air Force experience investigating UFO reports during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.
“As a result of these investigations, studies and experience gained from investigating UFO reports since 1948, the conclusions of Project Blue Book were:
(1) no UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security
(2) 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
(3) there was no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as “unidentified” were extraterrestrial vehicles
“With the termination of Project Blue Book, the Air Force regulation establishing and controlling the program for investigating and analyzing UFOs was rescinded….
“Since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force. Given the current environment of steadily decreasing defense budgets, it is unlikely the Air Force would become involved in such a costly project in the foreseeable future.” 
Such is the unchanging, official truth about UFOs.
OFFICIAL CULTURE VS. UNOFFICIAL CULTURE
Some things are true, and some things are officially true.
In 1937, for example, Joseph Stalin authorized the first Soviet census in a decade. Based on growth estimates of the 1920s, he expected a total near 170 million. Unfortunately, the numbers came in at 156 million, and Stalin was none too pleased. Rather than inquire as to what happened to the 14 million missing souls, Stalin devised a simpler solution: he had most of the census takers shot, the rest sent to the Gulag.
Two years later, a more amenable 1939 census counted 170 million, which became the official number.
Anyone who has lived in a repressive society knows that official manipulation of the truth occurs daily. But all societies have their many and their few. In all times and all places, it is the few who rule, and the few who exert dominant influence over what we may call official culture. While Stalin’s solution to his census problem was extreme, all elites take care to manipulate public information to maintain existing structures of power. It’s an old game.
Like everywhere else, America also has its topics that are too sensitive to discuss openly without distressing some powerful interest. UFOs have always been such a topic, as seen by the combination of official denial, extreme secrecy, public ridicule, and widespread popular belief connected to it.
Officially, UFOs do not exist, and are only discussed in public as a kind of joke, or perhaps a piece of cultural kitsch. Yet, about 80 percent of Americans believe in them. Why does such a disparity exist? After all, most Americans believe in God, and yet there is no official ridicule associated with this belief.
Could it be that a belief in UFOs is – however odd this may at first seem – slightly subversive?
THE REDMOND, OREGON INCIDENT
There are many examples in this book that illustrate the disparity between official and unofficial truth about UFOs. I will give one right here. It is one of the better-known UFO reports: the Redmond, Oregon case.
Shortly before dawn on September 24, 1959, police officer Robert Dickerson was driving through the streets of Redmond, Oregon, when he saw a large, bright object descend over the city, stop abruptly, and hover at 200 feet.
The object was low enough that nearby treetops glowed. Minutes later, Dickerson drove to the Federal Aviation Administration office at the Redmond Airport.
Meanwhile, the object rapidly moved to an area northeast of the airport, and once again hovered. Its color had changed from bright white to reddish-orange. Through binoculars, Dickerson and others perceived it as flat and round; tongues of “flame” occasionally extended from its edge.
At 5:10 a.m., FAA reported the object to the Seattle Air Route Control Center, which relayed the message to Hamilton Air Force Base in California. At 5:18 a.m., six F-102 jet fighters were scrambled from Portland to intercept. Witnesses were still watching the hovering object when the jets roared over Redmond. As the aircraft approached, the object squelched its “tongues of flame,” emitted a fiery exhaust, shot up into the air at an incredible speed, and disappeared into the clouds at 14,000 feet.
It was so close to the path of the jets that one of the pilots swerved to avoid hitting it. Another jet, caught in the turbulence of the tremendous exhaust, nearly lost control. One pilot, using gunsight radar, continued the chase, but the object abruptly changed course – an event that was tracked by radar at Klamath Falls Ground Control Intercept – and the pilot gave up.
For two hours afterward, the unknown object continued to register on radar, performing high-speed maneuvers at an altitude between 6,000 and 54,000 feet.
The pilots immediately received an intelligence debriefing and were ordered not to discuss the matter, even among themselves. Unfortunately, hundreds of Redmond citizens had heard the jets, some had seen the interceptors, and a few had made reports about the unknown object. Forced into an explanation, the Air Force said the flight was a routine investigation caused by false radar returns. Excitable witnesses probably imagined the glow.
Word soon leaked out, however, that the FAA was checking for abnormal radioactivity where witnesses saw the object hover and “blast off.” This made it rather difficult for people to swallow the Air Force explanation: why would FAA check for abnormal radiation if the whole event was illusory? The Air Force soon changed its solution: the object everyone had seen was probably a weather balloon. But how could a weather balloon outdistance jets flying at 600 mph?
Nevertheless, the explanation stood – for a little while.
The Air Force did not know that the nation’s then-leading civilian UFO group – the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena – had obtained certified copies of FAA logs.
At various times before and after the Redmond incident, there had been talk of pressure against the FAA into silence regarding UFOs; apparently this time the pressure was insufficient. The FAA logs described the unidentified object and its maneuvers in great detail, including its evasion from the interceptors. The logs also included Air Force confirmations of radar tracking, scrambling of Portland jets, and a report from Klamath Falls.
The Air Force promptly denounced the FAA for issuing false information and maintained its balloon answer.
After more pressure from NICAP and several legislators, however, the Air Force finally announced the “true” explanation: the witnesses had seen the planet Venus. 
POWER AND FEAR
Regarding the Redmond case, or dozens of similar incidents on record, one might reasonably ask: why would the military bother to hide UFO information in such a manner? If there are aliens, why not just come out and say so?
For most hard-working people, for whom life is already demanding and challenging enough, the UFO problem may seem peripheral to their life. After all, millions of people slave away throughout the world in sweatshops, prisons, or worse. One can hardly think that such people would be much worse off under alien overlords than they are already.
But to the prime beneficiaries of the social order, the UFO problem represents a problem of grave significance, e.g., who or what is muscling in on their turf? What could such entities want? At bottom is the question of how the presence of others would affect pre-existing social and power relationships.
This leads us to one our civilization’s most interesting, unpleasant, and unasked questions: “Who Owns What?” Stated most simply, we can represent the U.S. population as a room of 100 people, with a total private wealth of $100. Perhaps in Utopia, the breakdown of wealth would approach a dollar per person. In our little room, however, one person owns forty of the dollars; nineteen more people own forty-five; and eighty people share the remaining fifteen dollars. That is America today, and with some variation this has been the case throughout its history. If this is not a clear “class society” then no such entity ever existed. 
Fairness issues aside, recall that this not-so-imaginary society has a political system, a set of laws, an economy, a media, and so on. Need one ask who is in the best position to ensure that those institutions are most responsive to his needs? Or on whose behalf these systems are most likely to work? And need one ask whether, in such a society, the concepts of self-government, republicanism, or “rule of the people” can have any real meaning?
Granted that the bottom 80 percent must be controlled, pacified, and made compliant: how can the few control the many in a way that preserves the veneer of a free society? This is, after all, an old question with old solutions that need ever-new tweaking. No elite can rule without obtaining some minimal level of consent from the masses.
Terror, force, and crude propaganda can often do the job, but in wealthier and ostensibly democratic societies, where the KGB or Stasi cannot simply break into one’s bedroom, elites need to “manufacture consent” through really effective propaganda. 
Accordingly, it becomes crucial to guide the public discussion of issues in ways that avoid basic questions, such as who owns what. Anything else will do: school prayer, abortion, the Flag, or Monica Lewinsky.
Based upon the actions taken by the official structures of power regarding UFO information, it would appear that the truth of the matter constitutes a threat to those in charge.
THE NATIONAL SECURITY STATE
“We think we’re Luke Skywalker,” says a friend of mine, “when we’re actually Darth Vader.”
America is a country with a bad conscience, nominally a republic and free society, but in reality an empire and oligarchy, vaguely aware of its own oppression, within and without.
I have used the term national security state” to describe its structures of power. It is a convenient way to express the military and intelligence communities, as well as the worlds that feed upon them, such as defense contractors and other underground, nebulous entities.
Its fundamental traits are secrecy, wealth, independence, power, and duplicity.
Nearly everything of significance undertaken by America’s military and intelligence community in the past half-century has occurred in secrecy. The undertaking to build an atomic weapon, better known as the Manhattan Project, remains the great model for all subsequent activities. For four years not a single member of Congress even knew about it, although its final cost exceeded the then-incredible total of $2 billion.
During and after the Second World War, other important projects, such as:
- the development of biological weapons
- the importation of Nazi scientists
- terminal mind controlexperiments
- nationwide interception of mail and cable transmissionsof an unwitting populace
- infiltration of the media and universities
- secret coups
- secret wars
All took place far removed not only from the American public, but most members of Congress and a few Presidents. Indeed, several of the most powerful intelligence agencies were themselves established in secrecy, unknown by the public or Congress for many years.
Since the 1940s, the U.S. Defense and Intelligence establishment has had more money at its disposal than most nations. In addition to official dollars, much of the money is undocumented. From its beginning, the CIA was engaged in a variety of off-the-record “business” activities that generated large sums of cash. The connections of the CIA with global organized crime (and thus de facto with the international narcotics trade) has been well-established and documented for many years. 
In addition, the CIA maintained its own private airline fleet which generated a tidy sum of unvouchered funds primarily out of Asia. Finally, much of the original money to run the American intelligence community came from very wealthy and established American families, who have long maintained an interest in funding national security operations important to their interests.
In theory, civilian oversight exists over the U.S. national security establishment. The President is the military Commander-in-Chief. Congress has official oversight over the CIA. The FBI must answer to the Justice Department. In practice, little of this fond theory applied during the period under review. One reason has to do with the secrecy: the compartmentalization of information within military and intelligence circles.
“Top Secret” clearance does not clear one for all Top Secret information. Sensitive information is available on a need to know basis. Two CIA officers in adjoining rooms at the Langley Headquarters can be involved in completely different top secret activities, each completely ignorant of the other’s doings. Such compartmentalization not only increases secrecy, but independence from the wrong (e.g. official) kinds of oversight.
Great latitude of activity is not merely the prerogative of the CIA. During the 1950s, President and five-star general Dwight Eisenhower effectively lost control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The situation deteriorated so much that during his final two years in office, Eisenhower asked repeatedly to get an audience with the head Strategic Air Command to learn what America’s nuclear retaliatory plan was.
What he finally learned in 1960, his final year in office, horrified him. If a revered military hero such as Eisenhower could not control America’s nuclear arsenal, nor get a straight answer from the Pentagon, how on earth could Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon regarding comparable matters?
Secrecy, wealth, and independence add up to power. Through the years, the national security state has gained access to the world’s most sophisticated technology, sealed off millions of acres of land from public access or scrutiny, acquired unlimited snooping ability within U.S. borders and beyond, conducted overt or clandestine actions against other nations, and prosecuted wars without serious media scrutiny.
Domestically, it maintains influence over elected officials and communities hoping for some of the billions of defense dollars.
Deception is a key element of warfare, and when winning is all that matters, the conventional morality held by ordinary people becomes an impediment. The examples of public deception by national security elements are too many to summarize here, but are provided in the ensuing chapters.
The UFO cover-up (precisely the right phrase) is one secret among many within the American national security state. Like other areas within its domain, the UFO problem has been handled secretly, with great deception, and significant resources.
The secrecy stems from a pervasive and fundamental element of life in our world: that those who are at the top of the heap will always take whatever steps necessary to maintain the status quo.
CAN THEY REALLY COVER THIS UP?
UFO skeptics often ask, “do you really think the government could hide something like this for so long?” The question itself reflects a basic misunderstanding about the nature of the national security state: that secrecy is a way of life. Actually, though, the answer is yes, and no.
Yes, in that cover-ups are standard operating procedure, frequently unknown to the public for decades, becoming public knowledge by a mere roll of the dice. But also no, in that UFO information has leaked out from the very beginning. It is impossible to shut the lid completely. The key lies in neutralizing and discrediting unwelcome information, sometimes through official denial, other times through proxies in the media.
As mentioned earlier, military secrecy orders are severe, and a major incentive to secrecy. In addition, the history of the U.S. media shows unsettling developments, not least of which is penetration by the intelligence community. By the early 1950s, the CIA had cozy relationships with most major media executives in America.
The most significant of these were with:
- the New York Times
- The Washington Post
- The Christian Science Monitor
- The New York Herald-Tribune
- The Saturday Evening Post
- The Miami Herald
- CBS News
- Scripps-Howard Newspapers
- Hearst Newspapers
- the Associated Press
- United Press International
- the Mutual Broadcasting System
In addition, the CIA had major ownership over many proprietary publications throughout the Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
By the early 1970s, the agency admitted to having working relationships with over 400 American journalists. Consider the possibilities with 400 strategically placed people throughout the mainstream media. There is evidence that this relationship continues.
These connections gave several benefits to the CIA. They provided cover for agency operatives and enabled its staffers to gain valuable information from journalists. More insidiously, however, were instances in which reporters planted disinformation on behalf of the agency. In other words, information from such august publications as The New York Times in all likelihood contained articles that were intentionally false, planted on behalf of the CIA. We know that such things occurred; what we do not know is how frequently, or when.
The result is effective news management.
- Long before CIA operative Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet air space in 1960, American reporters knew about U-2 flyovers.
- Prior to the Bay of Pigs invasion, they knew about the training of Cubans in Guatemala by the CIA.
- Regarding the Vietnam War, the media almost uniformly followed the line of the Johnson Administration until it became clear that the war could not be “won.”
The 1980s saw great progress in keeping the press out of American military actions such as Grenada, Libya, and Panama, culminating in the most censored major American war of the century, the Gulf War of 1991.
Not surprisingly, the mainstream media supported government propaganda about UFOs, as well. From 1947 onward, while the Air Force worked to remove the UFO problem from the public domain, the media helped it to ridicule the subject. The release of every major Air Force and CIA statement about UFOs has, without exception, been met by uncritical media acquiescence.
It is true that the decade of the 1990s has brought a different kind of media openness about UFOs than existed in past decades, due to the recognition that money can be made. The net result, however, is a very mixed bag. At the same time that such television networks as A&E and Discovery have provided fairly serious documentaries on the subject, UFOs have essentially become an adjunct of pop culture.
Moreover, serious treatment by the major networks has remained non-existent.
In the conclusion of the University of Colorado Report on UFOs, physicist Edward U. Condon asked with evident annoyance that, if aliens are really here, why haven’t they presented themselves? The whole question, he wrote,
“would be settled in a few minutes if a flying saucer were to land on the lawn of a hotel where a convention of the American Physical Society was in progress, and its occupants were to emerge and present a special paper to the assembled physicists….” 
Evidently, if there are aliens here, they are not especially interested in announcing themselves to us.
- Is it yet possible to prove the issue?
- Are there hypotheses that can be tested?
- Can “believers” somehow produce the proof that skeptics continually demand?
- What would constitute proof?
- Many people have videotaped UFOs. Some are hoaxes, while others appear to be genuine. Is it possible to prove one is genuine?
- What about consistent witness testimony?
- Perhaps persuasive in a court of law, but provable in the court of science?
- What about radar/visual cases, such as the Redmond, Oregon case described earlier, in which a UFO is observed visually and tracked on radar?
- Certainly compelling to someone who was there, but . . . proof?
Not only must we ask what constitutes proof, but who is authorized to deem it so. This is not so easy to determine. Certainly, an acknowledgment of aliens would have to come from a major spokesperson of official culture – a message from the President, perhaps. The matter is more political than scientific.
UFO evidence derived from a grassroots level can never survive its inevitable conflict with official culture (fifty years of failure have borne this out). An acknowledgment about the reality of the UFO phenomenon will only occur when the official culture deems it worthwhile or necessary to make it. Don’t hold your breath.
As a result, the easiest thing to do with UFO evidence is to ignore it, which is what most people do. Much harder is to confront it honestly, whether this means accepting or debunking it. That is, accepting into one’s worldview something as “far out” as extraterrestrials is not easy for many people, especially when one’s official culture finds little more than ridicule in the subject. But honest debunking is very, very difficult, considering the compelling nature of so many UFO cases. Personally, I am close to the position that it is impossible to do this honestly, but will leave the benefit of the doubt to some exceptional, as yet unfound, individual.
The problem with nearly all skeptical arguments against alien visitation is that, quite simply, they fail to look at the UFO evidence. They all sound great in theory, but fall apart when presented with a few good reports. In the end, skeptics are forced to fall back upon their most often-used weapon: claiming a UFO event was a hoax.
The most common of the theoretical complaints are:
Granted that there may be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, interstellar travel is still impossible. The distances between stars are too vast to travel.
- Allen Hynek, long-time consultant to the Air Force’s Project Blue Book, had an expression for this kind of attitude about UFOs: “it can’t be, therefore it isn’t.”
It is true that the distances of interstellar space are so vast as to make travel appear to be impossible. No person could survive a 10,000 year interstellar journey, considering our current technologies.
The most common rejoinder is that perhaps a breakthrough in propulsion technology is possible, and that perhaps we can somehow surpass or bypass the speed of light obstacle, like the Enterprise at warp eight.
Physicists scoff at the idea, except those who are now working on it. Is it at least possible that someone else might already have gotten further on this problem? The claims of thousands of eyewitnesses point to revolutionary propulsion methods of UFO craft.
But the question really betrays a lack of imagination. Even assuming no breakthroughs in propulsion technology, recent developments in just two areas – artificial intelligence and biotechnology – will bring revolutionary developments within the next century. Many in those two fields believe it will actually be possible to create an artificially intelligent organism. Perhaps, having found a twin to Earth somewhere out there, an artificially intelligent organism could make the long journey. Or why even use an organism when one could equip the ship itself with artificial intelligence?
If we can plausibly imagine ourselves finding another planet with features similar to our own, and send an intelligent probe there, how likely is it that someone else has already done the same to us? There are many unknown variables, to be sure, but the prospect cannot be denied.
Why would presumably superior aliens be interested in us? Some obvious answers: water, minerals, and life. The possibilities inherent in DNA could be of special interest to others who might arrive. While humans prize the extraction of minerals in the ground more highly than human life itself, DNA may be the greatest prize on Earth – it certainly is the most complex.
Our understanding of DNA has come a long way since its discovery by Watson and Crick fifty years ago, but our ability to manipulate this complex matrix of life remains in its infancy.
Meanwhile, blessed with an astonishing supply of biological diversity on this planet, mankind seems capable only of exterminating it. Some environmental scientists believe that, at the present rate, human beings will wipe out as many as two-thirds of all living species on the Earth within the next century. But others may actually know what to do with DNA.
Why haven’t they made themselves known to us? This was Condon’s question.
After all, a simple landing of an alien vessel on the White House lawn would surely settle matters. The question of course cannot be answered, but it does make some questionable assumptions, mainly that the human race is on some kind of parity with others who may arrive. If I were studying a band of highland gorillas, I doubt that I would introduce myself to the dominant male with a view toward establishing diplomatic relations. Perhaps something on the order of open relations with official culture is not something that aliens would even think about. Or, perhaps an open acknowledgment and relationship promises too many headaches.
Besides, if one takes seriously the thousands of reports and claims of alien abduction, the rejoinder is that aliens have made their presence known. They have done so, however, covertly, in a manner that bypasses all official channels of our civilization – an act of extreme subversion.
Infrastructure questions. Where is the infrastructure of this alien civilization that can produce such incredible technology and enormous vessels? If UFO reports are to be taken seriously, there must be thousands, or even millions, of aliens already here – how can that be?
In the end, however, questions like these are all guilty of the same mistake, which is that they try to place us inside the enlarged head of these aliens. They presume that we can somehow think for them and imagine what their civilization can be like. They are too theoretical. It is one thing to discuss the likelihood or impossibility of space travel, quite another to examine and explain a few good UFO reports.
Despite the mass of data supporting the reality of both UFOs and an ongoing cover-up, there will be many who still ask whether this stuff is all true. Can we know with certainty that these sources are accurate? How can we know?
That protean genius, Voltaire, who was himself a historian of the first rank, had this to say about the matter:
“Historical truths are merely probabilities.
If you fought at the battle of Philippi, that is for you a truth which you know by intuition, by perception. But for us who dwell near the Syrian desert, it is merely a very probable thing, which we know by hearsay. How much hearsay is necessary to form a conviction equal to that of a man who, having seen the thing, can flatter himself that he has a sort of certainty?
“He who has heard the thing told by twelve thousand eye-witnesses, has only twelve thousand probabilities, equal to one strong probability, which is not equal to certainty. If you have the thing from only one of these witnesses, you know nothing; you should be skeptical. If the witness is dead, you should be still more skeptical, for you cannot enlighten yourself. If from several witnesses who are dead, you are in the same plight. If from those to whom the witnesses have spoken, your skepticism should increase still more.
“From generation to generation skepticism increases, and probability diminishes; and soon probability is reduced to zero.” 
Wise words. Historical knowledge is slippery, and can never attain a mathematical certainty. We may achieve a working hypothesis, or perhaps reasonable certainty, but surely nothing more.
And yet, who disputes that Octavian and Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in the year 42 B.C.?
POSSIBLE DIMENSIONS OF THE UFO PROBLEM
So, just how serious is the UFO problem? Are aliens really among us? If so, what do they want?
Keeping this discussion completely factual, we can acknowledge that the UFO phenomenon has always been global. It is not, as some Americans continue to believe, a uniquely American phenomenon, or restricted to the southwestern states. By no means.
Sober, reliable, people of all sociological strata have reported unconventional objects throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, all the world’s major bodies of water, and even outer space.
UFOs are also actual objects, not simply atmospheric phenomena.
This is not to say that some atmospheric phenomena have not been mistakenly believed to be flying saucers, but that the core of difficult UFO cases are of actual objects of apparently unconventional design (e.g. disc-shaped), and capable of incredible speeds and maneuverability. When an object is seen visually, is tracked clearly on radar, and when pilot after pilot is adamant that what he saw was a real object, it is reasonable to conclude that we are dealing with something real.
It is also true that from the 1950s and beyond, people around the world have been claiming to see alien entities. Now, it is certainly possible that they were mistaken. It is interesting to note, however, that such people have frequently been interviewed by civil and military authorities, and typically been considered honest.
In late 1954, for example, hundreds of witnesses in France and the rest of Mediterranean region, as well as South America, claimed to see short alien beings. The witnesses were men, women, youths, and the elderly, doctors, professors, mechanics, homemakers, and peasant farmers.
Several cases left significant landing traces. Were these people hoaxing? Not according to the authorities who investigated them. Were they delusional? If so, what caused such widespread and similar delusions? Was it a case of mass hysteria? If so, it was an event that cut across national and language barriers among people who knew little about UFOs to begin with.
In addition, a number of prominent military and scientific personnel have believed in the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) as an explanation for UFOs. In other words, they believed that aliens are here. There is a good reason why military personnel take the subject seriously, considering the seemingly non-stop nature of their encounters with unidentified flying objects.
There is also no doubt that the actual number of UFO sightings vastly exceeds any official total. Hynek believed the difference to be a factor of ten. That, of course, was when people had somewhere to report their sightings. I can add that, in the final twelve months of writing this book, I encountered about thirty people who volunteered UFO sightings to me, without any solicitation on my part. In every case, the witnesses never reported what they saw to any authority, and in most cases told either no one, or perhaps a close friend.
One woman told me of her sighting, even though she had not told her husband. How many people are there who have seen a UFO, but never made their sighting a matter of public knowledge? I believe the answer to that is, lots.
What we have here is a widespread phenomenon affecting many people, generating high levels of interest, concerning a project that is taking place in near-complete secrecy, for purposes unknown, by entities unknown, with access to apparently substantial resources and technology.
That, at least, is how matters appear to be.
SOURCES AND DOCUMENTATION
Bodies need bones; history needs facts. In the course of this study some seemingly outlandish claims are made: how do I back them up?
In preparing this book, I have drawn from three basic groups of sources.
- Previously classified documents released through the Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act was a completely unforseen development to those involved in UFO secrecy during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
The Act was passed in 1966, but gained some teeth only in the aftermath of Watergate and Vietnam. By the mid-1970s, many citizens filed FOIA requests regarding government involvement with UFOs, and obtained information that confirmed extreme interest in UFOs.
UFO researcher Bruce Maccabee compiled a short list of government information available to the public which was not available in 1969. It includes:
- the files of Project Blue Book
- the UFO files of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI)
- The UFO files of the FBI
- CIA files
- State Department files
- Army files
- Navy files
- Coast Guard files
- the Canadian National Research Council files
- and more
Maccabee estimated that perhaps 5,000 pages of government documents have been released in recent years that were not contained within the Project Blue Book/AFOSI file as of 1969.
The public is especially indebted to Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), and the determination of people who petitioned government agencies for UFO documents. Fortunately for researchers, most of the relevant FOIA documents are readily available on the Internet. 
In book form, much of the pertinent documentation has been published in Clear Intent (1984), by CAUS members Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood.
In addition, Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret (1987) used many FOIA documents to support the thesis of an international UFO coverup. FOIA documentation also exists in dozens of other published books.
Primary sources (e.g. books) from people involved in UFO research at the time
Many of the primary sources from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s are hard to come by. Still, with some effort, it is possible to track down the key sources.
In the first place, there were three main organizations of the 1950s and 1960s that collected significant UFO data. They are:
(1) Project Blue Book (formerly Projects Sign and Grudge), which was conducted by the United States Air Force
(2) the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), a global organization founded by Jim and Coral Lorenzen
(3) the National Investigative Committee for Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), led by retired Marine Corps Major Donald Keyhoe
The records of these organizations are not especially accessible.
Project Blue Book’s records are available for a fee at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. APRO’s records have never been published in a systematic form and have been unavailable for years. NICAP’s files ended up at the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, but have never been published.
More readily available are publications that made use of the above sources. Many Blue Book cases were distilled by two individuals who based their books on them: CaptainEdward Ruppelt, who headed Blue Book in the early 1950s, and Air Force consultant Allen Hynek. Ruppelt’s 1956 Report on Unidentified Flying Objects is essential reading.
It derives heavily from Blue Book files, and is amplified by Ruppelt’s account of military and government attitudes toward the UFO problem during that period. Hynek also wrote two books based on his twenty years of affiliation with Blue Book. In addition, the complete list of Blue Book unknowns are available at several Internet sites, and UFO researcher Brad Steiger published a collection of Blue Book reports in the 1970s. 
Although APRO files are unavailable, much of the organization’s work was published in the many books of its founders, Jim and Coral Lorenzen. All are valuable and most are difficult to find. Coral Lorenzen also wrote and edited the APRO Bulletin, one of the finest UFO journals ever, and today one of the rarest.
NICAP records are to some extent available through the organization’s seminal UFO Evidence, published in 1964. The book is long out of print and unavailable even in most libraries. Beside this, the writings of Donald Keyhoe are essential reading. Keyhoe was NICAP’s director from 1956 to 1969, and without question the most important UFO researcher/writer ever.
His five books on the subject contain a wealth of information. It surely helped that Keyhoe was friend and associate to prominent figures in the American military and intelligence community, including Roscoe Hillenkoetter, Delmar Farhney, Arthur Radford, and others. Throughout, he elaborated on his contention that UFOs represented the technology of an extraterrestrial civilization. 
Keyhoe worked hard to obtain accurate reports, and succeeded far more than he failed. He also could look ahead, always a rare gift. In 1940 he wrote a prescient book on how the coming world war would be fought. In 1953 he daringly (and with remarkable accuracy) wrote about the future of space travel. But most importantly, Keyhoe scored coup after coup for many years while digging for UFO facts.
His 1953 book alone contained several gems:
(1) The first detailed account of the 1952 Washington sightings and the ensuing Air Force press conference, the latter description of which remains the best available anywhere
(2) The publication (obtained through official channels no less) of about 50 previously classified UFO reports, many of which flatly contradicted official positions that there was nothing to the phenomenon, and several of which suggested intelligent control beyond anything conventionally possible
(3) The outlines of the Robertson Panel, which Keyhoe quickly learned about. This last was truly a remarkable score, and was something only Keyhoe could have done
It is the unavoidable fact that UFO researchers have not used Keyhoe’s books effectively.
Today, he is nearly forgotten. His books are absent from footnotes, and rarely appear in bibliographies. Prominent UFO researchers blandly acknowledge his key role in breaking the dam on information, and then ignore him. 
Writers such as Keyhoe, the Lorenzens, Hynek, Ruppelt, and a few others of the early period remain unique and indispensable sources of information. Nothing written today about that period, including this book, can replace them.
But they were not infallible. Keyhoe and the Lorenzens made their share of mistakes, and Hynek’s writings are often self-serving and coy (until his “conversion” to the UFO cause during the mid-1960s, Hynek was held in relatively low regard by many UFO researchers for his frequent servility to the Air Force line).
Still, these people offered the best information we will ever have on this period, and they must therefore be placed in a special category of consideration. Above all, one must read their books with great care.
Even though my focus is on the American dimension of the problem, it is not exclusively so, as both the UFO phenomenon and American national security interests are global. There are a few European sources, but unfortunately for the early period, there were no European civilian organizations equivalent to APRO or NICAP that maintained an extensive database. One of the important early European researchers was Frenchman Aimé Michel, who researched and recorded in admirable detail the great 1954 European Flap.
In addition, several of Jacques Vallee’s books also provide good source material for the European aspect of the UFO phenomenon. 
- Contemporary scholarship
The quality of work on UFOs varies to an alarming extent.
Some of the most sophisticated discussion and analysis does not exist in book form at all, but only on the Internet. While much of the Internet writing on UFOs demonstrates excellent historical understanding, most of it is not historical writing, per se.
The fact is that there is a serious lack of systematic historical writing on the subject of UFOs. In my own judgment, until this book, there had been a single, genuine history: The UFO Controversy in America (1975), by Temple University historian David Jacobs. Jacobs’ book was a well-researched, successfully written history.
Its primary drawback derived from its time of publication, which preceded the great release of UFO data through FOIA. It also offered little on the relationship between the U.S. intelligence community and UFOs. Jerome Clark’s three-volume UFO Encyclopedia is another important resource for the serious reader.
Although I disagree with some interpretations offered by Clark, his work is valuable, and is available as an abridged, single-volume, The UFO Book. Other useful books are indicated in the bibliography.
It was not easy deciding when to stop hunting for more information, even though I had a mass of data from hundreds of sources.
Every time I thought I had obtained the fundamentals of a particular element of UFO history, I inevitably found something new and exciting to look into, frequently on an Internet web site. As anyone who has ever written history knows, however, at some point you have to stop hunting and start writing. Although I am sure this book would have continued to benefit from several more years of research, I believe it would have been a benefit of diminishing returns. Still, I leave the door open to future revisions if I decide that more thorough research is truly warranted.
The waters of UFO research are deep, and I have tried not to lose my footing. Throughout, I have been careful never to veer far from established facts. I am reminded of the saying: we are never as radical as reality itself.
Thus, while some of my conclusions are more conservative than what others may think justified, they are just as often more radical.
FINAL REMARKS AND CONCERNS
Because I have tried to provide perspective on the political and military dimension to the UFO problem, there is the danger that I have written two books instead of one.
After reviewing my material, I don’t think this has happened, but there certainly are passages dealing with the national security state that are not directly UFO-related. I have added them for the value of their indirect light.
It is important to show that the cover-up of UFO information is not all that unusual. In all cases, I have tried to keep the non-UFO-specific passages as succinct as possible.
I am confident that I have followed through on my intention to adhere closely to the facts. It is true that there are some places in this book where I speculate on some possibilities or theories; when I do, I have tried to make this clear. Throughout, I have tried to the best of my ability to serve as a useful guide through the maze of UFO reports and policy.
If nothing else, this topic deserves a respectable history. The UFO field has long since reached the point where the available information is more than sufficient for a unified history of the early years. So I have presented this book, despite its imperfections, as a partial restitution for such egregious neglect.
Even if UFOs were to turn out to be a unique form of mass hallucination (which they will not), this study will still have value for its review of how the U.S. national security apparatus handled the problem. If there are other answers, then this book should clarify some of the key patterns involved.
Unfortunately, those patterns leave little cause for optimism regarding either the problem or its response. Americans are in a bad enough state trying to struggle through the ordinary smoke of their official culture. How can they be expected to assess the implications of the UFO problem? They can begin only by recognizing that secrecy over UFOs exists, and that this secrecy is part of a broader policy of control and deception.
It is a bad omen that our civilization, beleaguered as it is by its own doing, has not faced this problem squarely.