From weather balloons and meteors to Atlas missiles soaring high in the sky, the U.S. Air Force finally gave thousands of UFO reports spanning three decades an explanation.
After years of being stuck on microfilm at the National Archives, UFO enthusiast John Greenewald has made available more than 130,000 pages of the U.S. government’s “Project Blue Book.”
The archive of 12,600 reports have been declassified for several years, but until now, there’s been no easy way to read about Cocoa, Fla., cops seeing strange lights in the sky or the time a Shreveport, La., jokester played a flying saucer prank on a colleague.
“Proved to be practical joke perpetrated by one (redacted) … apparatus consisting of eighteen inch aluminum disk,” a July 7, 1947, report states. “Electrical condensers and wire was made in machine shop … and tossed from bldg (sic) into street as joke on (redacted).”
Though most of the reports perused by the Daily News meander toward the mundane — sightings of meteors blazing across the sky and weather balloons bobbing beyond the horizon — there are some gems.
“People have this fascination when it comes to UFOs. We can have our speculation that it’s top secret, but we simply don’t know,” Greenewald, of the Black Vault website, told the Daily News.
The entire collection obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests spans more than two decades of digitized and searchable reports. It’s hosted on Greenewald’s site dedicated to sharing government documents.
The documents originate from a team of UFO debunkers based at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They fielded global sightings of unidentified flying objects from 1947 to 1969, labeling simple answers for the unexplainable, when the Air Force canned the project.
The project failed to produce a substantial report deemed a domestic, global or extraterrestrial threat to national security, according to the Air Force’s 1985 fact sheet on Project Blue Book.
“No UFO reported, investigated and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication of threat to our national security,” the statement reads.
Despite the seemingly candid response, Greenewald believes the documents are part of a public relations machine and are only the “tip of the iceberg with what the military and U.S. government is hiding behind the UFO phenomenon.”
“They claim that this is it,” Greenewald added, but pages of largely redacted documents from the NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency, also hosted on the Black Vault, suggest otherwise.
The documents make no reference to the famous Roswell incident of 1947. A decade later two military personnel reported seeing a black object flying near the base with a blue tail of light slowly fade out of sight.
The Nov. 7, 1957, report was filed as a “probably aircraft” sighting due to the horseshoe-shaped maneuver.
A report detailed four black “circular-shaped discs” flying in formation near Pullman, Wash., on July 13, 1949, but they were likely four B-29s flying in the area, the documents read.
The objects found floating or zipping by rural towns or mid-sized cities showcased a majority of civilian reports, but at least 500 reports were made by members of the military, the database shows.
Some reports also detailed sightings above or near the nation’s Capitol.
Though several documents are faded beyond recognition, the archive details a national fear of the unknown.
“The UFO phenomenon was a true fear. Is it an alien threat or a threat from the Soviets or recycled Nazi technology,” Greenewald said. “It wasn’t too far off from the Pearl Harbor bombings.”
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