History Podcasts

How the U.S. Air Force Investigated UFOs During the Cold War

How the U.S. Air Force Investigated UFOs During the Cold War

On the afternoon of June 24, 1947, amateur aviator Kenneth Arnold was flying near Mt. Rainier, Washington, when he suddenly spotted nine unusual objects on the horizon. Arnold claimed the craft flitted from side to side and flipped in unison like “the tail of a Chinese kite,” and he estimated they were moving at around 1,700 miles per hour—far faster than any known aircraft. He initially assumed the physics-defying objects must be secret military vehicles, but he later admitted the incident was “as much a mystery to me as it is to everybody else.”

Arnold’s extraordinary story soon found its way into newspapers across the country, and reporters pounced on his description of the objects as moving “like a saucer if you skip it across water.” Within days, the term “flying saucer” was born.

Coupled with the famed July 1947 incident at Roswell, New Mexico, when the Air Force claimed a military weather balloon was mistaken for an alien spacecraft, Arnold’s encounter helped spark a wave of “flying saucer” sightings across the United States. The military brushed aside most of these “close encounters” as misidentifications or mere hokum, but a few reports came from air-traffic controllers and commercial pilots—people trained to search the skies with a discerning eye. The hysteria also dovetailed with the beginning of the Cold War, leading many to speculate that the mysterious sightings might be hostile Soviet aircraft.

Thus began official government investigations into the mysterious phenomena.

READ MORE: Interactive Map: UFO Sightings Taken Seriously by the U.S. Government

First forays: Project Sign

Following an official Air Force inquiry, Lt. General Nathan Twining fired off a memo in late-1947 describing the “flying disc” phenomenon as “something real and not visionary or fictitious.” He suggested the military launch an investigation into the source of the sightings.

By 1948, the Air Force had initiated “Project Sign,” the first of three military offices tasked with collecting and analyzing reports of what were termed “Unidentified Flying Objects.” Project Sign’s investigators quickly concluded that UFOs weren’t coming from behind the Iron Curtain—their flight characteristics simply didn’t match those of any manmade aircraft—but some on the team may have embraced the idea that UFOs were not of this world.

According to Air Force officer Edward Ruppelt and others who studied UFOs for the government, Project Sign produced a report in the summer of 1948 speculating that the sightings might be evidence of “interplanetary” or extraterrestrial craft. Air Force brass supposedly rejected and destroyed the document on the grounds that there was no hard evidence for its conclusions. To this day, no copies of the report have ever been recovered.

READ MORE: Two Pilots Saw a UFO. Why Did the U.S. Air Force Destroy the Report?

Project Blue Book: saucer sightings and more

Project Sign was terminated in late 1948 and replaced by the short-lived Project Grudge, which was later succeeded in 1951 by the now-famous Project Blue Book. Based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, Blue Book served as the government’s main repository for sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena. Over the next 18 years, its tiny staff investigated thousands of reports and often went into the field to interview Americans who had experienced close encounters with all manner of flying saucers and discs, cigar-shaped rockets and dazzling nighttime lights.

The “Blue Book” era began with a bang. Projects Sign and Grudge had only averaged around 170 UFO reports each year, but 1952 brought an unprecedented 1,501 sightings.

Perhaps the most extraordinary of all came in July 1952, when a series of unusual blips suddenly lit up radar screens across Washington, D.C. Bewildered military personnel scrambled jets to intercept the bogies, but while their pilots reported seeing bright lights dancing through the night sky, they were unable to catch them.

READ MORE: When UFOs Buzzed the White House, and the Air Force Blamed the Weather

In the wake of the sightings, the U.S. Air Force held a press conference in which Major General John Samford said the government would continue to investigate reports made by “credible observers of relatively incredible things.” Samford said the events in Washington may have been “temperature inversions”—layers of warm air that can cause radar aberrations—and he assured Americans that UFOs did not bear “any conceivable threat to the United States.”

Investigating, or debunking?

Despite Samford’s claims, many in President Harry Truman’s administration were indeed concerned that UFOs were a safety hazard. Whether the sightings were real or just mass hysteria, reports from panicked citizens ran the risk of choking federal communications channels. Some in the CIA even believed the Soviets could stage a UFO incident to help screen an attack on the United States.

In January 1953, the CIA convened a group of experts under the direction of CalTech physicist H.P. Robertson to review the flying-saucer issue. This “Robertson Panel” concluded that most UFO sightings could be easily explained away as harmless optical illusions or weather phenomena. Still, the group suggested the government should take steps to debunk UFO events to help prevent a potential public uproar. In a move that would provide fuel for conspiracy theorists’ fires for years to come, they also suggested that the feds soothe the national consciousness by using mass media, celebrities and even the Walt Disney Company to ridicule and discredit UFOs.

With the help of civilian astronomer J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book’s investigators spent the next several years debunking UFO sightings as everything from hoaxes and misidentified aircraft to birds, weather balloons, astronomical phenomena and contrails. The team successfully cleared up thousands of cases, yet their explanations often seemed as unbelievable as the reports themselves. A 1966 UFO in Michigan was blamed on “swamp gas,” and in 1968, Blue Book concluded that a group of B-52 pilots who witnessed strange lights moving over North Dakota had simply seen the star Vega.

READ MORE: Meet J. Allen Hynek, the Astronomer Who First Classified UFO 'Close Encounters'

Among the many who reserved harsh words for Blue Book’s methods was none other than Dr. Hynek, who had been with the program since the days of Project Sign and was popularly viewed as its chief debunker. “The entire Blue Book operation was a foul-up,” he later wrote in the 1970s. “Not enough attention was paid to the subject to acquire the kind of data needed even to decide the nature of the UFO phenomenon.”

Pulling the plug on Air Force investigations

After Blue Book’s famous “swamp gas” explanation and other far-fetched attempts to move UFOs into the “identified” category, future President Gerald Ford—then a Michigan congressman—called for a “full-blown” Congressional investigation to “allay any apprehensions” that the Air Force was engaged in a cover-up. The result was an independent study on UFOs funded by the federal government and run out of the University of Colorado. Led by physicist Edward U. Condon, the group first convened in late 1966 before releasing its findings in a lengthy 1968 tome titled “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects.”

The Condon Report was unequivocal in its findings: “Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge,” it read. “On the basis of present knowledge, the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations.”

Critics claimed the study was biased—Condon himself described it as a “fiasco” and “damned nonsense”—but its findings convinced the Air Force to finally pull the plug on Project Blue Book. On December 17, 1969, the Secretary of the Air Force released a memo announcing that the study “no longer can be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”

By then, Blue Book had analyzed 12,618 cases of flying objects in America’s skies, 701 of which remained “unidentified.” A few days later, a New York Times editorial said the decision to close Blue Book should be “applauded” as a victory for rationality. “No doubt the true believers will continue the quest,” the article added, “convinced more than ever that some bureaucratic conspiracy is seeking to hush up the news that the earth is under extraterrestrial reconnaissance.”

With the end of Project Blue Book, the federal government officially got out of the business of UFOs. President Jimmy Carter later suggested that NASA look into the subject in 1979, but the agency demurred on the grounds that there was not enough tangible evidence to warrant a study. Nevertheless, several other western nations have continued investigating. A “UFO desk” run by the British Ministry of Defense remained in operation until as recently as 2009, and France continues to keep an eye on the sky to this day under the aegis of GEIPAN, a government agency tasked with collecting and analyzing UFO reports.

WATCH: Full episodes of Project Blue Book online now.


Adversary Drones Are Spying On The U.S. And The Pentagon Acts Like They're UFOs

US GOV via Jeremy Corbell, AeroVironment, USN, VFRmap.com, USPTO

We may not know the identities of all the mysterious craft that American military personnel and others have been seeing in the skies as of late, but I have seen more than enough to tell you that it is clear that a very terrestrial adversary is toying with us in our own backyard using relatively simple technologies—drones and balloons—and making off with what could be the biggest intelligence haul of a generation. While that may disappoint some who hope the origins of all these events are far more exotic in nature, the strategic implications of these bold operations, which have been happening for years, undeterred, are absolutely massive.


Avrocar: The U.S. Military’s Flying Saucer

Last fall, we told you about films from Project Blue Book, the United States Air Force investigation into unidentified flying objects. In addition to records related to the search for UFOs, the National Archives and Records Administration also holds records concerning Identified Flying Objects. One of the most remarkable of these is the Avrocar.

The Avrocar was initially intended to be a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft that could travel at speeds of up to Mach 4. During the Cold War, traditional airport runways were seen as easy targets for an attack. With a fleet of VTOL aircraft, the United States could build underground airports, protected from Soviet bombers. The Avrocar would ascend through a shaft and then zip away at supersonic speeds.

The Avrocar’s disc shape and ability to hover bring to mind the flying saucers that we associate with extraterrestrial sources, but the project never really got off the ground–both figuratively and literally. From the start, the design was unstable and difficult to fly. Through extensive testing and modifications, Canada’s Avro Aircraft Limited was able to improve stability, but the Avrocar was still only able to hover at a height of about three feet and travel at speeds not exceeding 35 mph.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is home to a number of records from the Avrocar project. Some of these records were declassified in the fall of 2012, including schematic drawings and project reports. Other records, including the motion picture progress reports featured in this post, have been available to the public for much longer.

Aside from their discoidal subject, the filmed progress reports on the Avrocar are very similar to film reports for other military projects. Manufacturers of aircraft and other equipment were often contractually required to provide reports on film to demonstrate successes or the obstacles facing completion. In NARA’s records you will find film reports for everything from helicopters to missile systems.

In the Avrocar progress report films, you can see the development and improvement of the vehicle during the period between February 1958 and June 1961. The first film illustrates the construction of a wooden mock-up of the disc, prior to construction of the prototypes. The second film addresses modifications to the initial design to help improve stability and the pilot’s control of the vehicle. The final film follows the Avrocar as it is unleashed on a test course containing real-world conditions the aircraft is expected to successfully navigate. While the vehicle successfully crosses ditches and rough terrain, it turns out that all the dust and debris kicked up by the rotor was sucked right back into the disc’s air intake, resulting in limited flight time.

Though the progress report films demonstrate improvements in the Avrocar’s design and operation over a three year period, by the end of the final film it is apparent that meeting the project’s original goals would require a huge investment in overhauling the design. At the end of 1961, the Pentagon cancelled the project.

If you’d like to see the military’s flying saucer, one of the Avrocar prototypes is on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. For an in-depth history of the Avrocar’s development, check out this 2003 Smithsonian Air & Space magazine article!


Ep. #55 – The U.S. Air Force & UFOs

The subject of UFOs have dominated the headlines these past few years. As a result, The Navy has officially released three videos that depict what they say, are UFOs, and now the mainstream media seems to take the topic seriously.

Yet, the United States Air Force, the military branch with the highest level of air dominance and presence, is mysteriously quiet about the issue of UFOs, or what the Navy now refers to them as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs.

Why? The Navy has drafted new guidelines, captured video, and has openly admitted that the entire situation is a concern.

Despite all of that, the Air Force continues to deny any interest, and new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) responses just came in to The Black Vault that only add more confusion to the mix.


50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs

To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Project Blue Book, the National Archives will display records from the Air Force’s unidentified flying objects (UFOs) investigations.

Report of a “flying saucer” over U.S. airspace in 1947 caused a wave of “UFO hysteria” and sparked Federal investigation of unidentified flying objects. For more than 20 years, the U.S. Air Force analyzed UFO sightings and any security threat they posed most notably through Project Blue Book, which launched in 1952.

After investigations found no evidence of any UFO that was extraterrestrial in nature or that threatened national security, the Air Force announced Project Blue Book’s termination on December 17, 1969. Of the 12,618 UFO sightings reported between 1947 and 1969, 701 remained “unidentified.” Project Blue Book concluded its investigation 50 years ago, but American fascination with UFOs endures.

Project Blue Book’s duration coincided with a tumultuous period in American history. Domestic unrest during the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War protests had spurred growing American distrust of the government. Aware of this mounting skepticism, the Air Force quickly declassified and transferred its UFO investigation records to the National Archives, where they are available for public examination. The records on display come from those files.

East Rotunda Gallery, December 5, 2019 through January 8, 2020.

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Pentagon Destroyed E-mails Of Former Intelligence Official Tied To UFO Investigation Claims

Luis Elizondo speaks to the world for the first time in October of 2017.

Since October of 2017, intrigue and mystery has surrounded Luis Elizondo. He is a former Department of Defense (DoD) employee who says that during his time working inside the Pentagon, he headed a secret UFO study known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). His story quickly spread throughout the mainstream media garnering international attention, and people became enthralled by the idea that behind the scenes, the U.S. government was actively investigating UFOs and most likely hiding everything it knew. But despite the praise and adoration by many, Elizondo’s journey of stepping into a global spotlight would not come without many challenges for him to overcome.

It would take just under two months for Elizondo to receive some push back from his former employer which challenged some of his claims. Then, about a year and a half after he went public, the Pentagon would fire a more precise shot across the bow to directly target Elizondo’s integrity with what seemed to be a damning statement. They told The Intercept in June of 2019 that Elizondo had no “responsibilities” on the AATIP (this would later be amended to “no assigned responsibilities”). Armed only with official statements, but offering no supporting documentation, i t appeared that the Pentagon had a concerted effort to negate everything that Elizondo had brought forward to the public.

Now, more than three and a half years after Elizondo told his extraordinary story about investigating unidentified aerial threats for the U.S. government, the saga has taken an unexpected turn. The DoD has now admitted exclusively to The Black Vault that they have destroyed some of the most crucial evidence that could either prove, or disprove, Elizondo’s work history within a secret UFO study known as AATIP.

The discovery came when the DoD sent The Black Vault a “final determination” letter after three years of numerous FOIA requests and multiple appeals seeking out Elizondo’s e-mails. Despite a number of those appeals being granted, and what seemed like numerous wins in an effort to finally uncover the truth, the three-year-long effort came to a dead end when the first of many remanded appeals was finally answered.

“After thorough searches of the electronic records and files of OUSD (I&S), no records of the kind you described [Elizondo e-mails containing the word “unidentified”] could be identified. Please note that e-mails of former Department of Defense (DoD) employees are not retained unless they are considered historical records and retained by the National Records Center. There are currently no existing e-mail accounts for Mr. Elizondo. We believe that search methods were appropriate and could reasonably be expected to produce the requested records if they existed.”

Essentially saying the records were destroyed, The Black Vault reached out to clarify. The DoD has now confirmed nearly two months after they wrote the letter, that their final determination does equate to Elizondo’s emails being destroyed with no backup available. Beyond confirmation of that, they offer no official statement explaining or expanding on the situation.

What is unclear, is whether or not the deletion of these electronic records was authorized by protocol. To delete records such as these, set procedures followed by the agency called “record retention schedules” need to have certain prerequisites met in order to delete or destroy files. However, after extensive research on these schedules, consultation with Elizondo about his work history, and a near two-month effort to get clarification from the DoD on what authorized them to do this, it appears there may be no adequate authorization that can be cited for this destruction to have taken place.

Although The Black Vault aimed to have a published explanation from the DoD for this article, a near two-month attempt to do that, failed. In that amount of time, the DoD was continually unable to cite any specific protocol, procedure or schedule that would authorize the destruction of Elizondo’s e-mails. Further, they would not by the writing of this article, submit any additional explanation or offer a statement.

Setting the Record Straight on Elizondo

This letter, written by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, was sent to NBC on April 26, 2021, and widely distributed online. It vouches for Luis Elizondo, but apparently is not enough to sway the Pentagon’s stated opinion on the matter.

With the mounting hurdles Elizondo has been faced with, the situation has resulted in an official DoD Inspector General evaluation after a complaint was filed by Elizondo’s attorney on his behalf. In addition to his legal representation, Elizondo also does not march alone with his attempts to prove his past duties. He comes with a powerful ally who said he saw Elizondo’s work first-hand.

On April 26, 2021, former Senator Harry Reid restated his previous 2019 endorsement of Elizondo’s directorship and involvement in the AATIP, and that letter was first received by NBC News investigative journalist Gadi Schwartz. “As one of the original sponsors of AATIP, I can state as a matter of record Lue Elizondo’s involvement and leadership in this program,” Reid said in a blanket statement to all concerned.

The Black Vault sent this letter to the Pentagon the next day for comment, yet, they did not waver on their stance they’ve now held for nearly two years. The Pentagon restated directly to The Black Vault their claim about Elizondo not having any “assigned responsibilities” on AATIP, and they further would not comment on Senator Reid’s letter or his clear endorsement of Elizondo’s claims.

When asked to clarify why the word “assigned” was added in 2019, and what it exactly meant since it was the cause of much confusion, Pentagon Spokesperson Susan Gough stated to The Black Vault simply that, “…assigned responsibilities are an individual employee’s duties.” Follow-ups seeking more clarity to that short statement have remained unanswered as of the writing of this article.

But despite the Pentagon’s steadfast claim about Elizondo’s background and work history on AATIP a new development surfaced while researching this story. Just weeks after Elizondo stated during a press conference that he was still “actively engaged” in what is known as the UAP Task Force (UAPTF), the U.S. military’s present day effort to investigate UFOs announced in August of 2020, the Pentagon yet again challenged Elizondo’s assertion when asked by The Black Vault.

“Luis Elizondo departed the Department of Defense in October 2017,” Gough said. “He has no position in the UAPTF, and the UAPTF has not involved him in its ongoing work.”

The Black Vault contacted Elizondo for his reaction to this newest development. He expressed his frustration:

“As for my work behind the scenes to support UAP Task Force efforts, I have been patient in allowing the Pentagon to address this in a manner they are comfortable provided they do not lie. Unfortunately, it now seems they are choosing once again to obscure the truth,” Elizondo said. “As in other instances, I have initiated efforts internally that will hopefully encourage the Pentagon PAO to provide more truthful information to the public. Beyond that, I care to withhold additional comment at this point and allow every opportunity for the system to correct itself. However, my reserve is not endless, nor is my patience.”

Gough, a Pentagon Strategic Planner & Spokesperson since March of 2009, has spearheaded the effort to comment on Elizondo and UAPs in recent years. She is currently the only to be attributed as doing so on behalf of the U.S. government. She handles, solely, all enquiries from the media regarding UAPs and Elizondo submitted to the DOD, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Navy, Air Force, fields all questions on the UAPTF, and appears to be coordinated with on all FOIA releases regarding the same. According to internal DoD e-mails released via the FOIA, this is to ensure that “new terms/language/etc. aren’t introduced that complicate the overall messaging efforts.” Her involvement as a spokesperson being involved in the FOIA process remains highly controversial.

Gough’s background prior to commenting on UAPs for the Pentagon has not made her popular to many online UFO “‘D’isclosure” advocates. In 2003, she authored a Strategy Research Project where she wrote that the “orchestrated combination” of public diplomacy, psychological operations (PsyOps), and public affairs is the definition of what is called “strategic influence.” She adds that the “DoD needs someone with the appropriate position and authority to oversee the policy and to coordinate DoD strategic influence activities among DoD public affairs, military PSYOP, and other military information activities.”

This work involving PsyOps and public affairs concerns many that her message is based less on truth, and more focused on “strategically influencing” the general public.

It is unclear if Gough played a role in the original crafted 2019 “no responsibilities” statement about Elizondo, as attributed to Pentagon Spokesperson Christopher Sherwood and published by The Intercept. However, it is clear that Gough exclusively took over commenting shortly after that was printed. Since then, she appears to be strategically fine-tuning their overall messaging with numerous other statements pertaining to UAPs and Elizondo as printed by numerous media outlets. She even submitted a corrected statement to a previous position on AATIP and UFOs for a December 2019 report written by The Black Vault. She stated that Sherwood, who told the NY Post AATIP investigated UFOs, was wrong. Gough changed the Pentagon’s stance by saying, “Neither AATIP nor [Advanced Aerospace Weapon Systems Applications Program] were UAP related.” Though despite that claim, more than a year later in May of 2021, that correction seems to now be altered again by a new stance sent out by Gough to The Black Vault saying that AATIP utilized “reports of UAPs”. As a result, more confusion has ensued to those trying to make sense of the contradicting information and to those attempting to unravel what the AATIP was truly about.

The Value of a Paper Trail

The Black Vault had already received numerous e-mails from Luis Elizondo, connected to the review of three UAP videos from the DOD. It was explained that these survived, as they were obtained from the side of DOPSR, not from Elizondo’s e-mail box.

As Gough remains the only current contact that will comment on AATIP, UAP, or Elizondo related matters, it appears that at least to her, even endorsements from a former Senate Majority Leader will not make the Pentagon change their stance on Elizondo or the true scope of AATIP. Therefore, for those seeking official documentation to support either side, that hunt would need to be done through legal channels and the use of the FOIA. That tool would allow access to evidence that could certainly prove, or even disprove, Elizondo’s story all together.

Specifically, that evidence would include the official communication workload generated by Elizondo himself while he said he was working on the program.

Throughout anyone’s career, especially in government, a paper trail exists that would stretch beyond hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of pages over the course of a decade+ long employment such as Elizondo’s. Part of that paper trail would largely exist in the form of e-mails that could pertain to Elizondo’s day to day operations and duties AATIP or UFO related messages communications with his superiors even just personal chatter between Elizondo and other DOD staff.

This is the second “final determination” letter for FOIA case 19-F-1903. The first, which did not explain why there was a “no records” determination, was appealed. This letter is the result after the appeal was granted, which revealed that the records sought were destroyed.

However, as stated above, it is now confirmed the general public will never see any of that. In a stunning admission by the DoD, that electronic paper trail in the form of e-mails generated and received by Elizondo, have all been destroyed. The entire electronic cache of data and evidence has been deleted, with no backup available.

Although Elizondo expresses doubts that the statement is even true, he also sent his reaction to The Black Vault after he learned about the DoD’s announcement of his e-mails being deleted.

“If the statement by the Pentagon is true, which I am not convinced that it is, this would be a significant loss of information that belongs to the public and may even be relevant to future legal efforts. It is also becoming increasingly evident that the destruction of my e-mails, etc. may be a convenient tactic to obscure the truth of my involvement in national security activities. I sincerely hope this is not the case.”

“Future Legal Efforts”

Elizondo’s reference to “future legal efforts” could have more than one meaning. Despite the DoD/OIG evaluation currently ongoing, The Black Vault made a discovery in 2019 that offered a previously unseen glimpse into the life of Elizondo.

Away from his story about AATIP, UAPs and all things unidentified, Elizondo’s official title within the DoD when he resigned was “Director, National Programs Special Management Staff, OUSD(I).” The National Programs Special Management Staff (NPSMS) was mostly overlooked by researchers seeking the truth about Elizondo’s background. The Black Vault had dug in to uncover what that office was all about, and after years of searching, there was not much to be found. This was possibly due to the sensitivity surrounding the day-to-day work within.

In one section of the military court transcript, the NPSMS is reference along with the description of their duties, in relation to military commissions.

In the only official documents uncovered that references the NPSMS, it was revealed that Elizondo’s office he directed would play an instrumental role during the military trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or KSM. In a 2017 military court transcript, KSM’s attorney David Nevin made reference to the NPSMS, and called them the “SAP Access People.” It appeared by the dialogue between Nevin and the judge presiding over the case, that the NPSMS controlled the Special Access Program (SAP) access for the defense teams interpreter. That access was required for the interpreter to hold that position, and it was the NPSMS that would orchestrate it.

In another part of the proceedings, a second transcript revealed that, “The NPSMS is the office responsible for administering the special access program for the Office of Military Commissions.”

The Black Vault asked Elizondo about the above, and although he was able to confirm that this was his office and he was involved, he could not elaborate and declined to comment further.

Where this becomes incredibly important, is the reference by the DoD in their letter stating that if a DoD employee’s e-mails are not considered “historical records” that they would not be retained. However, with the evidence found above, and the role the NPSMS played in at least one ongoing trial involving at least one SAP, that documented evidence would likely be considered “historical records” as they may be considered evidence in active litigation. The Black Vault brought up this fact to the FOIA office within OSD/JS, however, there was no comment offered.

Records Retention

Although it seems logical to retain records that may be involved in trials of someone like KSM, there are still circumstances where the destruction of documents, e-mails or otherwise, is authorized given certain circumstances are met. Although many records are saved in perpetuity, some can be destroyed due to set protocols put in place by federal agencies and military branches, including all components of the DoD. These “records retention schedules,” also referred to as “records disposition schedules,” are agency-specific protocols often published online or available via the FOIA.

Each schedule defines a long list of records, the type of record, and how long they should be retained for. It also outlines how, and why, records can be destroyed. Each agency is different, and each record has its own schedule.

In the case of Elizondo who worked at the OUSD(I), a sub-component of OSD, his e-mails are likely governed by the OSD Records & Information Management Program. Here, there are a wide range of retention schedules which deal with how long e-mails are kept under various circumstances. White House correspondence, contractor material, general counsel communications, and many other categories all have very specific protocols set out for how long e-mails (amongst other record types) are to be kept.

The Black Vault communicated with the DoD over the course of nearly two months to determine what schedule authorized the destruction of Elizondo’s e-mails. Throughout numerous communications, and follow-ups that numbered well into the double digits, those requests went ultimately unaddressed, with no official explanation given. However, in a best effort to figure out which applied, The Black Vault sifted through the numerous OSD schedules posted online.

The Black Vault then consulted with Elizondo about his work background, and after discussion, it was determined he was a “non-Capstone” official (Capstone officials are generally labeled as senior level, permanent, positions) he was a civilian employee and he was not a contractor.

With those facts, after extensive research, the most likely category that Elizondo would fit into, thus defining the retention time of his e-mails, appears to be set forth in the 100 Series General Office Records. Within this schedule, the protocol for “Email Retention for Non-Capstone Officials” is listed. The schedule states:

The entire description above applied to Elizondo’s work background, and with that, per OSD Series 100, Elizondo’s e-mails should have been maintained until October 4, 2024, seven years after his resignation, as defined in the schedule. Elizondo was asked if he felt that the above schedule would apply to his position, and he confirmed that it absolute would.

After further consultation, Elizondo has put forward numerous other categories in Series 500 which he felt applied to his records. This included, sections 504-05, Intelligence, Special subject files section 503, Intelligence, Surveillance and Warning and section 502-07, General Systems – Policy Correspondence and Coordination, which included correspondence with and coordination of intelligence activities within the Department of Defense and with other U.S. Government entities. Each of these categories, should they apply to Elizondo’s e-mails, would define the records retention schedule as “permanent” and only transferred for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) after 25 years for permanent holding. If Elizondo’s e-mails applied to just one of these, then their destruction was not authorized at all, nor would it ever be.

The Elusive Truth About The Destruction of E-Mails

When it comes to Elizondo’s e-mails, The Black Vault had filed at least eight FOIA requests over the past few years, seeking out keyword searches that would likely add insight and clarification to the many stories that have circulated. Words like “Unidentified,” “AATIP,” “AAWSAP,” “UAP,” “Community of Interest,” “To The Stars,” “DeLonge,” and “Puthoff” were just some of the requests filed to see what e-mails may surface during the course of Elizondo’s career. Yet oddly, many of these requests yielded “no records” responses, with no further clarification. In other words, according to Elizondo’s former employer, they could not find any messages were ever sent or received by Elizondo with the aforementioned keywords. Never was there a discussion that the e-mail box did not exist.

One of the many FOIA requests giving a “no records” determination. This specific request, was for a search of Luis Elizondo’s e-mail box, that contain the term “unidentified.”

Numerous appeals were filed seeking additional searches. Using evidence in the form of Elizondo’s own public testimony, and previously released records, the DOD agreed that many of those appeals submitted by The Black Vault should be granted and new searches would be done.

Generally, agencies will stipulate when records are destroyed (or at least, thought to be destroyed). The Black Vault has numerous examples to cite when “no records” responses are given under such circumstances. However, in these cases regarding Elizondo’s e-mails, that was never done in the numerous “no records” denials. They simply said there were “no records” found, indicating they searched his e-mail box(es) but found nothing with the keywords specified.

In one particular example, The Black Vault’s FOIA case 19-F-1903, requested, “all e-mails, sent to and/or from Luis Elizondo… with the following keyword: ‘Unidentified.'” The case originally yielded the “no records” response on December 13, 2019. After an appeal was filed three days later, it was granted and the request was returned to the FOIA officers for re-processing.

This is part of one out of numerous exchanges, confirming that three “accounts” of Elizondo were searched. Note there was never an indication records were destroyed here, or elsewhere, when communicating about the cases. (Note: Blur added as a courtesy for privacy reasons.)

There were numerous exchanges between The Black Vault and the FOIA officer on this case which would confirm that a) NIPR, SIPR and JWICS networks (each system holds different levels of classified information up to the Top Secret level) had been searched, along with b) ensuring that the entire timeframe of Elizondo’s employment would be explored to ensure all responsive records would be found. During the course of these communications, never was it said that e-mail boxes were destroyed or did not exist. Rather, it was confirmed that the three accounts were searched across the three systems while processing the original request.

It would then take more than a year to finally close this particular case. On April 1, 2021, (irony of the date noted) the DOD issued another “no records” determination and said they found no e-mails sent to/from Elizondo containing the word “Unidentified.” However, this time, additional language had been added to the response letter.

This excerpt from the letter, dated, April 1, 2021, added additional language insinuating that Elizondo’s e-mails were not saved. No where in the extensive communications, was it stated that e-mails were sought in mailboxes that had already been destroyed.

It was this language that showed that the material sought after for more than three years, throughout numerous FOIA cases and appeals, was entirely gone.

Was It Deliberate?

Regardless of records retention or disposition schedules, many will theorize that the deletion of e-mails was another targeted attempt to continue the smear campaign of Elizondo. When asked about this, Elizondo would not speculate.

“I do not want to speculate on the possibility if this was an intentional act. I shutter at the thought that someone in a position of authority would purposely destroy historically significant records for the purpose of obfuscation and deceit possibly crossing the boundaries of criminal activity,” Elizondo added. “For this reason, I prefer to let the system respond to your inquiry. However, it is no surprise to many that for the last 3 years I have been targeted by some in the Pentagon for retribution, which continues to this day. I truly hope this is not related.”

The Way Forward

The destruction of Elizondo’s e-mails is a crushing blow to the investigation process, but it is not a final one. Given the likelihood the AATIP program would have generated numerous other records and reports outside of an e-mail box hope is not completely lost for future document releases that may answer some long-standing questions. That will just take time, and many of those FOIA cases that should yield such revelations have now remained open for years, as filed by The Black Vault beginning in 2017.

Hope may also not be totally lost on Elizondo’s e-mails, either. The Black Vault, in the weeks prior to the publishing of this article, filed numerous FOIA requests throughout multiple government agencies, seeking out additional documentation which may even include e-mails sent to/from Elizondo. Although documentation of any kind can be destroyed at the agency level, there are sometimes ways to potentially get that information elsewhere. It has happened before and may even just happen again.

Often with FOIA, as one door closes, two or three swing open with new opportunities and avenues to traverse. In this particular case regarding Elizondo, it may just be there are quite a few more than just two or three doors that have now presented themselves.

FOIA may soon shine light on material that some want you to believe is gone for good.

But that will be a story for another day…

Full Statements

The following were statements submitted to The Black Vault for this article. They are published here, in full, to show them in their entirety.

Luis Elizondo

“If the statement by the Pentagon is true, which I am not convinced that it is, this would be a significant loss of information that belongs to the public and may even be relevant to future legal efforts. It is also becoming increasingly evident that the destruction of my e-mails, etc may be a convenient tactic to obscure the truth of my involvement in national security activities. I sincerely hope this is not the case.”

“Even at the unclassified level, any correspondence would be considered relevant to the discovery process pertaining certain aspects of my job title, duties, and performance in other areas. In fact, it would be considered as relevant towards evidence from both a prosecutorial and defense perspective.”

“I do not want to speculate on the possibility if this was an intentional act. I shutter at the thought that someone in a position of authority would purposely destroy historically significant records for the purpose of obfuscation and deceit possibly crossing the boundaries of criminal activity. For this reason, i prefer to let the system respond to your inquiry. However, it is no surprise to many that for the last 3 years i have been targeted by some in the Pentagon for retribution, which continues to this day. I truly hope this is not related.”

Regarding being “actively engaged” in the UAPTF:

“As we have seen time, and time again regarding the Pentagon’s responses, they still cant get their story straight. It should be no surprise that the consequence of this has now resulted in an official DoD IG Evaluation regarding the Pentagon’s handling of this topic. As recently as this week, the Pentagon PAO changed their stance again on the purpose of AATIP, partially admitting what we already knew for years. As for my work behind the scenes to support UAP Task Force efforts, I have been patient in allowing the Pentagon to address this in a manner they are comfortable provided they do not lie. Unfortunately, it now seems they are choosing once again to obscure the truth. As in other instances, I have initiated efforts internally that will hopefully encourage the Pentagon PAO to provide more truthful information to the public. Beyond that, I care to withhold additional comment at this point and allow every opportunity for the system to correct itself. However, my reserve is not endless, nor is my patience.”

Susan Gough

“I refer to Mr. Reid’s office. We have no comment on his letter.”

“Assigned responsibilities are an individual employee’s duties.”

“Luis Elizondo had no assigned responsibilities for AATIP while he was assigned to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense of Intelligence. Luis Elizondo departed the Department of Defense in October 2017. He has no position in the UAPTF, and the UAPTF has not involved him in its ongoing work.”


UFOs Confront Soldiers During War, Says Ex-Air Force Intelligence Officer

The public rarely hears about interactions between military personnel and unexplained aircraft -- especially during wartime.

As time goes on, however, UFO stories stuck behind red tape begin to see the light of day. The Vietnam War saw its share of UFO activity in the 1960s.

One close encounter, in 1968, involved the crew of an American patrol boat that reported two glowing circular craft following them in the demilitarized zone that separated North and South Vietnam (see depiction below).

The crew aboard a second patrol boat later reported seeing the UFOs over the first boat and a flash of light, followed by an explosion that completely destroyed the boat. These Vietnam reports included close observation of the unknown aerial craft which appeared to house pilots (see recreation image at the top of this story).

Wartime UFO stories are recreated in the premiere episode of the second season of History's "Hangar 1: The UFO Files." The accounts are drawn from tens of thousands of UFO cases in the archives of the Mutual UFO Network, the world's largest UFO investigation group.

"The military was interested in [UFOs] because they had capabilities far above anything that we had, and they wanted to find out what the technology was and, frankly, who they belonged to," according to former Air Force intelligence officer, Capt. George Filer.

While in Vietnam, Filer -- who had a top secret clearance -- gave daily briefings to Gen. George S. Brown, deputy commander for air operations in Vietnam.

"Frequently, the Vietcong or North Vietnamese would be attacking an outpost and I would explain that, and we would have ground-air support, particularly at night where we'd go in there with these gun ships, and I would give briefings on all of that," Filer told The Huffington Post. "Some of the time, there would be unidentified craft over the DMZ."

Filer described a typical report that he'd receive and which he included in his briefings to Brown:

"You'd have an aircraft flying along, doing around 500 knots and a UFO comes alongside and does some barrel rolls around the aircraft and then flies off at three times the speed of one of the fastest jets we have in the Air Force. So, obviously, it has a technology far in advance of anything we have.

"I would be told this unofficially. People tell you a lot of things that they don't put in writing or sign their name to. There was always this part of UFOs that, if you got too interested, it could mess up your career. And this is true today even with commercial pilots. I've also heard from people serving in Afghanistan saying they've seen UFOs, and the Iranian news carries UFO reports pretty regularly."

During a 1973 press conference, five years after the patrol boat UFO encounters, Brown -- as USAF chief of staff -- was asked about the Air Force's position on UFOs:

I don't know whether this story has ever been told or not. They weren't called UFOs. The were called enemy helicopters. And they were only seen at night and they were only seen in certain places. They were seen up around the DMZ in the early summer of '68. And this resulted in quite a little battle.

And in the course of this, an Australian destroyer took a hit and we never found any enemy, we only found ourselves when this had all been sorted out. And this caused some shooting there, and there was no enemy at all involved, but we always reacted.

Always after dark, the same thing happened up at Pleiku at the Highlands in '69.

Many stories about battling UFOs have emerged throughout history.

One early account of UFO warfare was supposedly seen by the citizens of Nuremberg, Germany, in 1561. On a morning in April, the Nuremberg Gazette reportedly described an aerial battle between large "cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about. All these elements started to fight one against the other." An artist, Hans Glaser, created a woodcut of the spectacle, seen below:

During World War II, also in Germany, Allied aircraft pilots often reported mysterious glowing, fast-moving, circular lights, which were dubbed Foo Fighters. The New York Times reported it as "military slang for flying saucers."

Filer -- who documents his sightings and other UFO news at the National UFO Center site -- was one of several military eyewitnesses to something extraordinary in the sky over England. It was 1962, and he was the navigator on a refueling tanker.

"We were out over the North Sea when London Control called and asked if we would be willing to intercept an unidentified that was over Oxford and the Stonehenge area. We had just finished up our refueling mission, so we said sure, and they cleared all the traffic around us and gave us top priority as we descended towards the UFO. All they really had was a very large radar return, but it was much bigger than a normal aircraft."

Filer (pictured at right) recalled how his radar scope indicated the UFO was as big as the huge Firth of Forth Bridge in Scotland that he and his crew often used as a regular navigation point.

"The 'thing' was at 1,000 feet and we were descending from 32,000 feet. We picked up this huge radar return while we were still about 30 miles out. It was dark out and when we got much closer to the object, we saw lights around it, outlining the shape of a cylinder, like a cruise ship. It then just quickly rose and went up into space.

"We were pretty sure we'd just seen a UFO."

Filer also told HuffPost that he has heard from air traffic controllers who claimed they were told to "always divert aircraft away from UFOs and deny that it existed. I think they want this whole situation to go away, and I think [the policy] is coming from the National Security Council -- they're at the highest level. It sounds funny, but presidents don't always know what their National Security Council is doing."

Upcoming episodes of "Hangar 1" over the next 12 weeks will focus on folks who've held military positions and are willing to come forward and tell their stories.

One of those (hold onto your hats) is a man who claims he was in the Marines (wait for it. ) and that he was stationed on Mars for several years. That's right: the red planet Mars. He'll describe being part of an off-planet military force. Let's not pass judgment. yet.

There's also the story of a retired Army sergeant who says he was assigned to UFO crash and retrieval cases where both ships and ET bodies were supposedly recovered -- some dead, some alive.

In case you were wondering, Hangar 1 is an actual hangar where MUFON, for a long time, stored all of its archives. At one point, all of the organization's files were housed in this airport hangar somewhere in the middle of the country. The images of Hangar 1 that appear in the series are of the real hangar.

"Hangar 1: The UFO Files" is on the History channel on Friday nights. Check your local listings for exact times.


13 of the best military morale patches

Posted On August 28, 2020 21:26:20

Morale patches are patches troops wear on their uniforms designed to be a funny inside joke, applicable only to their unit or military career field. They are usually worn during deployments, but the wear of morale patches is at the discretion of the unit’s commander.

The patches often (not always) make fun of a depressing, boring or otherwise specific part of the job.

These patches have been around since the military began to wear patches. They are collected and traded by people, both military and civilians, who come across them. Some are more popular than others, but they are usually a lot of fun.

The “Morale Stops Here” patch is pretty popular and is actually repeated by units the world over. It’s really funny the first time you see it.

This is an old one, a throwback to the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command days. “To forgive is not SAC policy” is widely attributed to famed SAC commander Curtis LeMay.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, CSAR stands for Combat Search And Rescue.

Having the Kool-Aid Man as your unofficial mascot is funny enough, but making his hand the lightning-shooting gauntlet in the old SAC emblem is clever.

The JSTARS (or Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System) have a descriptive patch here – as they operate out of trailers at Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar (in the military, being deployed here is also known as “doing the Deid”).

This is a U.S. Navy patch from Vietnam. The “yacht” is a junk – a historically widespread type of ship used in China and around Southeast Asia. The Tonkin Gulf is where the Vietnam War (or more specifically, the U.S. involvement in it) really ignited.

More from Vietnam. By the end of the 1960’s, the rift between those who served in Vietnam and the perception of the war back home hit its peak.

As the Cold War intensified and the threat of nuclear war seemed more and more unavoidable, the young enlisted and officers whose role in the annihilation of Earth’s population probably felt more than a little stressed.

The tradition continued, well into Desert Storm. If you have morale patches that make others laugh or are highly prized, please post in the comments.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Public Interest in UFOs Persists 50 Years After Project Blue Book Termination

WASHINGTON, December 5, 2019 – It’s a timeless question: are we alone in the universe? The United States Air Force sought to answer that question through the scientific analysis of 12,618 reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) investigated under three successive projects headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. These included Project Sign, beginning in December 1947 and ending in February 1949 Project Grudge, a scaled-down continuation of Sign that ended in August 1949 and Project Blue Book, from March 1952 to December 1969—the longest-running iteration of the Air Force’s investigation of UFO sightings.

This photo, from the featured document display, is from a report of a UFO sighting in Riverside, California on November 23, 1951. (National Archives, Records of Headquarters U.S. Air Force [Air Staff])

Today, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the end of Project Blue Book, the National Archives is displaying a selection of records from the program in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. The records, on display through January 16, 2020, are a sample from the thousands of pages of textual records, still pictures, motion pictures, and sound recordings in National Archives holdings relating to Blue Book.

The seminal event that launched modern “UFO hysteria” in the United States occurred on June 24, 1947, in the skies over Washington State. While searching for a downed United States Marine Corps transport plane thought to have crashed on the southwest side of Mount Rainier, private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported that he had observed nine UFOs flying at approximately 1,700 miles per hour. During a subsequent interview with members of the media, Arnold described the objects as “appearing like saucers skipping on water.” News reports shortened the term to "flying saucers," which then became a popular term for UFOs.

The flood of UFO reports in the months following Arnold’s reported sighting caused the Air Force Chief of Staff to order the establishment of a project “to collect, collate, evaluate, and distribute within the government all information concerning sightings which could be construed as of concern to national security” on December 30, 1947. This project, codenamed Sign, evaluated 243 reported UFO sightings. However, the results were inconclusive, as stated in the February 1949 report: “No definite and conclusive evidence is yet available that would prove or disprove the existence of these unidentified objects as real aircraft of unknown and unconventional configuration.”

The Air Force’s follow-on project, Grudge, evaluated 244 reports of UFO sightings. In August 1949, the Air Force concluded that the UFO reports were misinterpretations of natural phenomena, man-made aircraft, fabrications, or hoaxes.

UFO reports continued to mount, however, and so did Cold War tensions with the Soviet Union. Air Force Director of Intelligence Maj. Gen. Charles P. Cabell ordered Project Blue Book in March 1952. Blue Book operated until December 17, 1969, when Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, Jr., terminated the project, and operations officially ended in January 1970.

According to the Air Force, Project Blue Book ultimately concluded that:

  • no UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force was ever an indication of threat to our national security
  • no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force indicated that “unidentified” sightings represented technological developments or principles beyond the range of modern scientific knowledge and
  • no evidence indicated that sightings categorized as "unidentified" were extraterrestrial vehicles.

The Air Force retired its records concerning investigations of UFOs and transferred them into the custody of the National Archives in 1975. However, as archivist Joseph Gillette explained in a three-part series of Pieces of History blog posts concerning Project Blue Book, in taking custody of the investigation files from the Air Force, the National Archives also inherited responsibility for protecting personally identifiable information contained therein.

After an extensive interagency partnership between the two entities to redact personally identifiable information from Blue Book case files concluded in the spring of 1976, the collection was made available for public research.

The files held by the National Archives contain the information the Air Force gathered about specific UFO sightings. Each case file relates to one sighting or to a group of closely related sightings. The files contain reports from UFO observers, correspondence between these observers and the Air Force, newspaper and magazine clippings, and reports of analysis of photographs and physical evidence.

Some reports were submitted by letter or telegram, but most reports of sightings were submitted on an Air Force questionnaire that contains the name and address of the observer, the date and hour of the sighting, and a description of what the observer saw. Each case file contains a control sheet that summarizes the sighting report and shows the Air Force explanation and conclusions for the sighting.

The display at the National Archives Museum includes this chart, Appendix I to Project Blue Book Status Report No. 8, which shows the frequency of unidentified flying object (UFO) reports in June, July, August, and September 1952. (National Archives Identifier 595542)

This comic strip relates to a July 19, 1952, series of multiple sightings of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) over Washington, DC. (National Archives Identifier 595553)

A page from the June 24, 1947 UFO sighting reported by Kenneth Arnold to the Air Force. (National Archives Identifier 28929152)


The Road to a Congressional UFO Hearing, 1960’s Style

The world is abuzz that the United States Senate, namely the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chaired by Senator Marco Rubio, is interested in a public UFO report created by the Intelligence Community (IC). In addition, the Department of Defense (DOD) recently announced a UAP Task Force, or UAPTF, which aims to investigate unidentified objects as they encroach on military installations. The effort is an exciting push towards transparency related to an issue that has intrigued the masses for decades, and one that is often encapsulated in secrecy and conspiracy allegations. However, this is not the first time Congressional interest into UFOs has happened. In fact, it’s happened before in a nearly identical fashion. Can this unfolding saga end the same way? Advocates for UFO disclosure sure hope not.

The Original UFO Research Programs

Back in 1947, the U.S. military had begun the first first of a trifecta of UFO related research programs. Beginning with Project Sign, then Project Grudge, then ending with Project Blue Book in 1969, the trio of projects collectively investigated 12,618 UFO cases within the twenty-two years they operated, and found only 701 remained “unidentified.”

Although those statistics are wildly contested, and rightfully so, that did not stop then House Minority Leader representing the State of Michigan, Gerald Ford, from pressing for answers about the UFO phenomena.

Congressional Interest

On March 28, 1966, a letter was sent by Ford to the House Committees on Armed Services and Science and Astronautics. He highly recommended that either committee investigate UFOs and come up with answers.

“No doubt you have noted the recent flurry of newspaper stories about unidentified flying objects (UFO’s). I have taken a special interest in these accounts because many of the latest reported sightings have been in my home state of Michigan,” Ford opened his letter. He went on to state, “In the firm belief that the American public deserves a better explanation than that thus far given by the Air Force, I strongly recommend that there be a committee investigation of the UFO phenomena.”

Statement issued by Gerald Ford on April 3, 1966. Document obtained from the Gerald Ford Presidential Library.

Then, just days later on April 3, 1966, Ford issued a statement about the mockery he endured after pushing for UFO transparency, largely due to the stigma surrounding the issue.

“As I had expected, some persons have ridiculed my call for a congressional investigation of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s). These people are a fraction of those who have given me their reaction to my proposal,” Ford wrote. “Those who scoff at the idea of a congressional investigation of UFO’s apparently are unaware that the House Armed Services Committee has scheduled a closed-door hearing on the matter Tuesday…”

As Ford indicated in his statement, the House Committee on Armed Services took action just as he promised. The committee met on April 5, 1966, at 10:35 a.m. Present with the committee, was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, chief scientific consultant to Project Blue Book, along with Major Hector Quintanilla, the active chief officer for Project Blue Book. In addition, multiple statements, documents and newspaper articles were entered into the record, in addition to numerous UFO reports by police officers, military personnel and the letter referenced above written by Ford.

After hearing the testimony, and seeing the evidence from the result of more than 10,000 cases by the time the hearing took place, the committee concluded that a report needed to be generated. “It is the opinion of the committee that the present Air Force program dealing with UFO sightings has been well organized, although resources assigned to it (only one officer, a sergeant, and secretary) have been quite limited,” the committee concluded. They went on to recommend that the Air Force negotiate contracts to select universities to analyze the data with scientific teams, and to investigate any promising cases.

A Public UFO Report

The report was to be made available to the public, as recommended by the committee. “The reports Project Blue Book should be given wide unsolicited circulation among prominent Members of the Congress and other public persons as a further aid to public understanding of the scientific approach being taken by the Air Force in attacking the UFO problem.”

Hearings before and Special Reports Made by Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives on Subjects Affecting the Naval and Military Establishments, 1966. (Download Full Document)

Within weeks, Ford had achieved his goal of getting a report and scientific analysis of the UFO data available at the time. In an April 21, 1966, press release, Ford said, “The Air Force has informed me it is arranging for a study by high-caliber scientists of some of the UFO sightings which have never been explained. The report will definitely be made public, the Air Force has assured me.”

Ford also stated he would have preferred a full hearing with witnesses in front of the committee, but said that he felt this was a “step in the right direction” having a scientific analysis of the data.

On October 7, 1966, the Air Force released their press statement that the University of Colorado would conduct the independent study on UFOs. The director of that effort was Dr. Edward Condon, who’s name would help identify his committee and later the report they generated.

The Condon Committee

The Condon Committee evaluated the threat potential behind UFOs, and whether or not they were a national security threat.

For two years, they studied the evidence. And their conclusion was that there was no threat, nor was there a reason to continue UFO investigations. This entire effort resulted in the official close of Project Blue Book in the end of 1969 (and formally closed in January of 1970), and the Condon Report has been cited for decades as the reason UFOs were not taken seriously thereafter.

From Project Blue Book To AATIP

Is history repeating itself? Although still contested on whether the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was truly a “UFO Study” similar to Project Blue Book, let us assume for a moment it was, and it continues to this day disguised as the UAPTF.

– The studies conducted by AATIP reflect those done decades ago by Project Blue Book.

– The military witnesses from the 2004 USS Nimitz encounters the 2015 USS Roosevelt encounters and others interviewed by the AATIP, reflect those military encounters that were brought up in the 1966 Congressional hearing on UFOs as investigated under Project Blue Book.

– The stigma surrounding the topic in the 1960s, which resulted in Ford receiving ridicule for pushing for a UFO hearing, echoes that of the “stigma” often referred to by Luis Elizondo, the man who says he led the AATIP effort from within the Pentagon.

– The 1966 enlistment of the University of Colorado, along with a scientific team to create a public report based on UFO data, is nearly identical to the unfolding saga that present day Congress is pushing for a public report from the IC.

So what next? Will the end to this unfolding saga conclude in the same way it did in the 1960s?

The efforts to achieve Congressional interest in the UFO topic should be commended and applauded. Decades have passed since such an achievement, and there is no taking away from the fact the general public wants to know the truth.

Yet, what many are forgetting, is the U.S. government has a history of not wanting to give that truth. At least, not all of it. This is evidenced by reams of still classified information on the UFO topic, which has yet to be fully revealed to the public. Despite current interest by Congress, they will heavily rely on the very institution that has spearheaded the secrecy surrounded UFOs: the IC itself.

So, will history repeat itself? Will a Condon Committee Report-like document be presented to Congress, that will then be utilized for decades to come on why there is NOT a reason to investigate UFOs or take them seriously?

Only time will tell on how this next chapter will play out, and whether the public report on UFOs will prove to be beneficial to the public understanding on the topic. Or, if history does repeat itself, it may just prove to be the next crutch for secrecy that will be utilized for the next 50 years, just like the last one was.


6 most interesting Bay Area UFO sightings investigated by the U.S. Air Force

From 1947 to 1969, the Air Force recorded 12,618 UFO sightings and spent significant resources investigating each claim during an era rife with Cold War paranoia about enemies’ secret weapons. Here’s six doozies from the Bay Area:

San Mateo: Boy spots ‘flying saucer’

In the morning of Dec. 6, 1962, a young San Mateo teen looked up in the sky and reported seeing a “flying saucer” about 100 feet in diameter, oval-shaped, soundless and red. In his handwritten letter to the Air Force the 13-year-old boy recounted how he eyeballed the object traveling at between 100 mph and 2,000 mph. He included a drawing of the UFO, an oval with another concentric oval inside of it. The inner circle was labeled “elevated” while the large ring was “smooth.” He compared the drawing to the 1951 movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” in which an alien lands and tells Earthlings they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

He concluded his report: “A lot of people think I’m batty but I don’t care because I really did see it. I think it came from Venus. I’m very interested in science too so I’m not a crackpot.”

Despite the boy’s efforts, the Air Force determined it an “unreliable report,” calling his story “conflicting” and speculated he might have seen a jet with afterburner or a meteor.

Placer County: Hunter encounters strange beings

On Sept. 5, 1964, a 27-year-old Orangevale man, armed with a bow and arrow, set out on a deer hunt with friends near Emigrant Gap, a wooded area in the Sierra Nevada on the route to Lake Tahoe.

He got lost during the hunt and decided to sleep in a tree overnight, fastening himself to a branch with his belt.

He described what happened next to Victor Killick, then the operator of Sacramento City College’s observatory, who forwarded the story to the Air Force. Military officials recorded an interview with the married painter, who worked at a missile production plant.

While in the tree, the man noticed a glowing light hovering near a ridge. A vehicle appeared to land on the ridge and he heard the crackling sound of someone approaching in nearby shrubbery. Two “aliens” appeared below him, according to the documents.

“They were garbed in a silver-like suit but visually had the complete absence of a neck. These strange (individuals) has unusual facial features especially in the region of the eyes that protruded extensively,” the Air Force investigator wrote, summarizing his recorded interview with the hunter. They did not speak, only cooed like a dove, the hunter said.

A third “robot” appeared and the hunter fired arrows at it. He set fire to pieces of his camouflage gear, everything but his T-shirt, to try to signal help, but the beings had “violent reactions,” he told investigators.

Finally, the beings emitted a vapor and the hunter said he blacked out. When he awoke, it was dawn. He found his fellow hunters, returned home and family members told him to report the incident.

“He stated he knew the story was hard to believe and that he did not want to let it get out in the newspapers,” Killick wrote to the Mather base commanding officer. “He said he thought it was his duty to notify someone in authority to have the matter investigated, (as a public security matter).”

Asked by investigators why he got a physical shortly after the experience, the hunter said: “I didn’t know if I had contacted radioactivity.”

In the end, the Air Force attributed his encounter to “psychological causes,” saying it could have been an owl, “coupled with an overactive imagination.”

San Mateo: ‘Strange object’ prompts presidential letter

“Dear Mr. President, I know you are a busy man but I am a citizen of this good old U.S.A.,” San Mateo resident Alice Reynolds wrote in 1961. “Just by accident, I went out to feed the birds some bread. We do this twice a day … I looked up into the sky and saw this strange object — I watched it for some time.”

Reynolds described seeing two stationary white balls, one with a tail, in the sky on Nov. 13, 1961. She complained that she tried to contact the Civil Defense Control Center in Belmont, but they weren’t open so she called the police: “They were more curious as to why I (was) up at that time than what I called about,” she wrote. She also fretted to the leader of the free world that the police report made it into the newspaper.

The 63-year-old’s letter was forwarded from President John F. Kennedy’s office to the Air Force, who mailed Reynolds a UFO questionnaire.

Air Force investigators stopped their probe due to “insufficient data,” saying it was likely a weather balloon or mirage.

They included a newspaper clip about the woman’s sighting headlined “Saucers With Tails Spotted.” The short UFO report was tucked below an article about Gov. Edmund Brown, the current governor’s father, canceling his appointments that week due to the flu.

San Francisco: Oakland UFO observer doubted due to his race

On Aug. 1, 1949, as the fishing charter chugged back into the bay underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the men aboard looked toward Alcatraz and saw silver objects in formation traveling faster than aircraft.

The Air Force interviewed the fishing trip members and had them sketch what they saw. The investigator in the lengthy report said he checked with the “Criminal and Subversive Files” of San Francisco and Oakland police departments and FBI regarding all of the reporting parties.

A sales clerk was found to be “rather excitable and as having a tendency to exaggerate,” but “honest and trustworthy.”

However, investigators who interviewed an Oakland reverend noted he was “colored” and the agent considered him a “religious fanatic” and unreliable. He said the reverend’s wife was considered a “Prophetess” and that he lived in an “extremely low class Colored neighborhood.” It was the only time race was mentioned in any of the Bay Area UFO reports.

The Air Force determined the men had seen radar testing kites, which were released from Treasure Island and Fort Baker twice a day.

San Jose: Flying ice cream cone spotted

On Feb. 7, 1950, from Berkeley to Alameda to San Jose, folks, including military officials, saw what many described as a “flying ice cream cone” drift across the sky.

An attorney wrote the Air Force describing his train ride home from work near San Carlos. He spotted what appeared to be a comet. He drew a triangle in the typewritten letter: “The whole area of the triangle appeared a solid mass of fire.”

Two Piedmont nurses wrote to authorities about the “mysterious” object, describing themselves as “non-drinking” WWI nurses.

Newspapers had a field day.

“Flying ‘Ice Cream Cone’ Reported Over Alameda,” a San Francisco Chronicle headline screamed, including a cartoon drawing of a flying ice cream cone with a navy officer looking through binoculars yelling “Vanilla!” while a young boy said: “I say it’s chocolate!”

The article described Air Force personnel as “baffled.”

A San Jose Evening News Associated Press article began: “Intelligence officers of the Western Air Defense zone are checking on reports of a ‘flying ice cream cone.’ They didn’t seem excited about it.” Witnesses called it a 30-foot ice cream cone, leaving a vapor trail. As the investigation stalled, reporters joked that the ice cream cone caper was closing “without getting in a good lick.”

A San Jose man eventually wrote to the Air Force explaining how he saw a single-engine airplane with a reddish vapor trail behind it. The agency concluded the plane caused the sightings.

Redwood City: Astronomy buff snaps photo of rotating sphere

While driving on the Bayshore Freeway near the Whipple Street exit on Nov. 2, 1964, a man said he saw an object the size of a half-dollar, rotating and pulsating from white to orange. The man described it as “several lights connected together and rotating in a counter clockwise direction” and included drawings. He also snapped a photo.

The “amateur astronomer” wrote a letter to the Air Force describing how he builds his own telescopes.

“I have observed weather balloons, mirages, planets, aircraft at night, helicopters at night, meteors, aurora borealis and other assorted sky phenomena, but this was not like any of those things I have seen previously,” he wrote.

As with many investigations, the Air Force took it seriously, sending the report to Washington, D.C., and reviewing his film.

Months later, the Air Force wrote the man saying they studied his film and determined a “film flaw, duplicating flaw, or chip in the emulsion.”