by Richard M. Dolan
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.
The UFO problem is a real one. It has involved military personnel
around the world for more than fifty years, and is wrapped in
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
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.
that this book, on the contrary, will be useful to experienced
researchers as well as those with little prior knowledge of the
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
Let us bring some perspective and common sense to this
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
Investigations of UFOs continued, and military
facilities dealing with super-sensitive information (such as the
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
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
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
"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
(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.
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?
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,
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.
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
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 gun-sight 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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
after the Second World War, other important projects, such as:
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.
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.
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.
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
What he finally learned in 1960, his final year in office,
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,
Johnson, or Nixon regarding comparable matters?
Secrecy, wealth, and independence add up to power.
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.
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
The most significant of these were with:
the New York Times
The Washington Post
The Christian Science Monitor
The New York
The Saturday Evening Post
The Miami Herald
the Associated Press
United Press International
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
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
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
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.
treatment by the major networks has remained non-existent.
In the conclusion of the University of Colorado Report on
physicist Edward U. Condon asked with evident annoyance that, if
aliens are really here, why haven't they presented themselves?
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?
"believers" somehow produce the proof that skeptics continually
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
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.
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
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.
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,
The problem with nearly all skeptical arguments against alien
visitation is that, quite simply, they fail to look at the UFO
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.
J. 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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.?
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
That, at least, is how matters appear to be.
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
1. Previously classified documents released through the Freedom of
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.
the files of Project Blue Book
the UFO files of the
Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI)
The UFO files of
State Department files
Coast Guard files
the Canadian National Research Council files
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.
form, much of the pertinent documentation has been published in
Clear Intent (1984), by CAUS members Lawrence Fawcett and Barry
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
2. 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.
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
(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: Captain Edward 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
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
writings of Donald Keyhoe are essential reading.
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
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
(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
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
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
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.
addition, several of
Jacques Vallee's books also provide good source
material for the European aspect of the UFO phenomenon.
3. 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
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
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
It was not easy deciding when to stop hunting for more information,
even though I had a mass of data from hundreds of sources.
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.
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
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
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
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.
 Alien Secrets: Area 5, Transmedia and Dandelion Productions for Sky Television, 1996.
Television documentary aired on The Learning Channel.
 Unidentified Flying Objects and Air Force Project Blue Book, USAF Fact Sheet 95-03; Air Force Link, The Official Site of the
U.S. Air Force [http://www.af.mil/].
 Richard Hall, ed. The UFO Evidence, The National
Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP),
Washington, D.C., 1964, p. 44, 138; Donald Keyhoe, Flying
Saucers: Top Secret, G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York, 1960, p.
255; Donald Keyhoe, Aliens From Space: The Real Story of
Unidentified Flying Objects, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden
City, NY, 1973, p. 40-44.
 Barry Bluestone, The Polarization of American Society:
Victims, Suspects, and Mysteries to Unravel (New York: Twentieth
Century Fund Press, 1995 [http://epn.org/tcf/xxblue.html]. See
also Ferdinand Lundberg's classic study, The Rich and the
Super-Rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today. L. Stuart,
 The works of Noam Chomsky are especially relevant, in
particular Necessary Illusions and Manufacturing Consent.
 See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity
in the Global Drug Trade; Lawrence Hill Books, revised edition
1991; John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, Random House, 1991; Drugs,
Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy, a Report of the Senate
Subcommittee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Terrorism,
Narcotics, and International Operations, 1989; James Mills, The
Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace;
Doubleday, 1986; Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair,
Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press the CIA, Verso, 1998.
Finally, see Gary Webb, Dark Alliance: the CIA, the Contras, and
the Crack Cocaine Explosion; Seven Stories Press, 1998. Webb's
1996 expose on the subject, published in the San Jose Mercury
News, essentially got him run of town. Within a year, he had
lost his job and was working in the non-profit sector (on this
sad topic, see Barbara Bliss Osborn, "Are You Sure You Want to
Ruin Your Career?" FAIR, March/April 1998, Vol. 11, No. 2
 See Carl Bernstein, "The CIA and the Media: How America's
Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central
Intelligence Agency, and Why the Church Committee Covered it
Up," Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977, p. 55-67; Ashley Overbeck,
Spooky News: A Report on CIA Infiltration and Manipulation of
the Mass Media [http://mprofaca.cro.net/mainmenu.html]; Loch K.
Johnson, America's Secret Power: the CIA in a Democratic
Society, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
 Daniel S. Gillmor, Ed., Scientific Study of Unidentified
Flying Objects, (Bantom edition, 1969), p. 26.
 Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, entry on "Truth."
 An excellent start is at The Computer UFO Network (CUFON)
on the World Wide Web [http://www.cufon.org/].
 Edward J. Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying
Objects, (Doubleday & Company, 1956); J. Allen Hynek, The Hynek
UFO Report (Dell Publishing Company, 1977); J. Allen Hynek, The
UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry (H. Regnery Company, 1972);
Brad Steiger, Ed., Project Blue Book: The Top Secret UFO
Findings Revealed, (Ballantine Books, 1976). Two Internet sites
with complete listings of Blue Book Unknowns are at [http://www.ibmpcug.co.uk/~irdial/bluebook.htm]
 Donald E. Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers are Real, (Fawcett
Publications, 1950); Flying Saucers From Outer Space (Henry Holt
and Company, 1953); The Flying Saucer Conspiracy (Henry Holt and
Company, 1955); Flying Saucers: Top Secret (G. P. Putnam's Sons,
1960) and Aliens From Space (Doubleday & Company, 1973).
 To make my point, I refer the reader to the website of the
J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), which is
generally considered the most academic of UFO organizations. In
this website's selection of recommended reading, exactly one of Keyhoe's books receives any mention whatsoever, where it is
buried among a number of books that are, frankly, not one-tenth
as valuable. See [http://www.cufos.org/index.html].
 Aimé Michel, UFOs and the Straight Line Mystery (1958).
Jacques Vallee, Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults
(And/Or Press, 1979); The Invisible College: What a Group of
Scientists Has Discovered about UFO Influences on the Human Race
(Dutton, 1975); Passport to Magonia: from Folklore to Flying
Saucers (H. Regnery Co., 1969); and Anatomy of a Phenomenon:
Unidentified Objects in Space - A Scientific Appraisal (H.
Regnery Co., 1965)