Project Blue Book – injection plastic machine Manufacturer – small plastic injection molding machine
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Previous projects Public USAF UFO studies were first initiated under Project Sign at the end of 1947 following many widely publicized UFO reports see Kenneth Arnold Project Sign was initiated specifically at the request of General Nathan Twining chief of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Wright Patterson was also to be the home of Project Sign and all subsequent official USAF public investigations Sign was officially inconclusive regarding the cause of the sightings However according to US Air Force Captain Edward J Ruppelt the first director of Project Blue Book Sign s initial intelligence estimate the so called Estimate of the Situation written in the late summer of 1948 concluded that the flying saucers were real craft were not made by either the Russians or US and were likely extraterrestrial in origin See also extraterrestrial hypothesis This estimate was forwarded to the Pentagon but subsequently ordered destroyed by Gen Hoyt Vandenberg USAF Chief of Staff citing a lack of physical proof Vandenberg subsequently dismantled Project Sign Project Sign was succeeded at the end of 1948 by Project Grudge which had a debunking mandate Ruppelt referred to the era of Project Grudge as the dark ages of early USAF UFO investigation Grudge concluded that all UFOs were natural phenomena or other misinterpretations although it also stated that 23 percent of the reports could not be explained Project Blue Book The Captain Ruppelt era According to Captain Edward J Ruppelt by the end of 1951 several high ranking very influential USAF generals were so dissatisfied with the state of Air Force UFO investigations that they dismantled Project Grudge and replaced it with Project Blue Book in early 1952 One of these men was Gen Charles P Cabell Another important change came when General William Garland joined Cabell s staff Garland thought the UFO question deserved serious scrutiny because he had witnessed a UFO The new name Project Blue Book was selected to refer to the blue booklets used for testing at some colleges and universities The name was inspired said Ruppelt by the close attention that high ranking officers were giving the new project it felt as if the study of UFOs was as important as a college final exam Blue Book was also upgraded in status from Project Grudge with the creation of the Aerial Phenomenon Branch Ruppelt was the first head of the project He was an experienced airman having been decorated for his efforts with the Army Air Corps during World War II and having afterwards earned an aeronautics degree He officially coined the term Unidentified Flying Object to replace the many terms flying saucer flying disk and so on the military had previously used Ruppelt thought that unidentified flying object was a more neutral and accurate term Ruppelt resigned from the Air Force some years later and wrote the book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects which described the study of UFOs by United States Air Force from 1947 to 1955 Swords writes that Ruppelt would lead the last genuine effort to analyze UFOs Ruppelt implemented a number of changes He streamlined the manner in which UFOs were reported to and by military officials partly in hopes of alleviating the stigma and ridicule associated with UFO witnesses Ruppelt also ordered the development of a standard questionnaire for UFO witnesses hoping to uncover data which could be subject to statistical analysis He commissioned the Battelle Memorial Institute to create the questionnaire and computerize the data Using case reports and the computerized data Battelle then did a massive scientific and statistical study of all Air Force UFO cases completed in 1954 and known as Project Blue Book Special Report No 14 see summary below Knowing that factionalism had harmed the progress of Project Sign Ruppelt did his best to avoid the kinds of open ended speculation that had led to Sign personnel being split among advocates and critics of the extraterrestrial hypothesis As Michael Hall writes Ruppelt not only took the job seriously but expected his staff to do so as well If anyone under him either became too skeptical or too convinced of one particular theory they soon found themselves off the project In his book Ruppelt reported that he fired three personnel very early in the project because they were either too pro or too con one hypotheis or another Ruppelt sought the advice of many scientists and experts and issued regular press releases along with classified monthly reports for military intelligence Each U S Air Force Base had a Blue Book officer to collect UFO reports and forward them to Ruppelt During most of Ruppelt s tenure he and his team were authorized to interview any and all military personnel who witnessed UFOs and were not required to follow the chain of command This unprecedented authority underlined the seriousness of Blue Book s investigation Under Ruppelt s direction Blue Book investigated a number of well known UFO cases including the so called Lubbock Lights and a widely publicized 1952 radar visual case over Washington D C According to Jacques Vallee Ruppelt started the trend largely followed by later Blue Book investigations of not giving serious consideration to numerous reports of UFO landings and or interaction with purported UFO occupants Astronomer Dr J Allen Hynek was the scientific consultant of the project as he had been with Projects Sign and Grudge He worked for the project up to its termination and initially created the categorization which has been extended and is known today as Close encounters He was a pronounced skeptic when he started but said that his feelings changed to a more wavering skepticism during the research after encountering a few UFO reports he thought were unexplainable Ruppelt left Blue Book in February 1953 for a temporary reassignment He returned a few months later to find his staff reduced from more than ten to two subordinates Frustrated Ruppelt suggested that an Air Defense Command unit the 4602nd Air Intelligence Service Squadron be charged with UFO investigations Robertson panel Main article Robertson Panel In July 1952 after a build up of hundreds of sightings over the previous few months a series of radar detections coincident with visual sightings were observed near the National Airport in Washington D C see 1952 Washington D C UFO incident Future Arizona Senator and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain is alleged to be one of these witnesses citation needed After much publicity these sightings led the Central Intelligence Agency to establish a panel of scientists headed by Dr H P Robertson a physicist of the California Institute of Technology which included various physicists meteorologists and engineers and one astronomer Hynek The Robertson Panel first met on January 14 1953 in order to formulate a response to the overwhelming public interest in UFOs Ruppelt Hynek and others presented the best evidence including movie footage that had been collected by Blue Book After spending 12 hours reviewing 6 years of data the Robertson Panel concluded that most UFO reports had prosaic explanations and that all could be explained with further investigation which they deemed not worth the effort In their final report they stressed that low grade unverifiable UFO reports were overloading intelligence channels with the risk of missing a genuine conventional threat to the U S Therefore they recommended the Air Force de emphasize the subject of UFOs and embark on a debunking campaign to lessen public interest They suggested debunkery through the mass media including The Walt Disney Company and using psychologists astronomers and celebrities to ridicule the phenomenon and put forward prosaic explanations Furthermore civilian UFO groups should be watched because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind It is the conclusion of many researchers that the Robertson Panel was recommending controlling public opinion through a program of official propaganda and spying They also believe these recommendations helped shape Air Force policy regarding UFO study not only immediately afterwards but also into the present day There is evidence that the Panel s recommendations were being carried out at least two decades after its conclusions were issued see the main article for details and citations In December 1953 Joint Army Navy Air Force Regulation number 146 made it a crime for military personnel to discuss classified UFO reports with unauthorized persons Violators faced up to two years in prison and or fines of up to 10 000 Aftermath of Robertson panel In his book see external links Ruppelt described the demoralization of the Blue Book staff and the stripping of their investigative duties following the Robertson Panel As an immediate consequence of the Robertson Panel recommendations in February 1953 the Air Force issued Regulation 200 2 ordering air base officers to publicly discuss UFO incidents only if they were judged to have been solved and to classify all the unsolved cases to keep them out of the public eye The same month investigative duties started to be taken on by the newly formed 4602nd Air Intelligence Squadron AISS of the Air Defense Command The 4602nd AISS was tasked with investigating only the most important UFO cases with intelligence or national security implications These were deliberately siphoned away from Blue Book leaving Blue Book to deal with the more trivial reports General Nathan Twining who got Project Sign started back in 1947 was now Air Force Chief of Staff In August 1954 he was to further codify the responsibilities of the 4602nd AISS by issuing an updated Air Force Regulation 200 2 In addition UFOs called UFOBs were defined as any airborne object which by performance aerodynamic characteristics or unusual features does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object Investigation of UFOs was stated to be for the purposes of national security and to ascertain technical aspects AFR 200 2 again stated that Blue Book could discuss UFO cases with the media only if they were regarded as having a conventional explanation If they were unidentified the media was to be told only that the situation was being analyzed Blue Book was also ordered to reduce the number of unidentified to a minimum All this was done secretly The public face of Blue Book continued to be the official Air Force investigation of UFOs but the reality was it had essentially been reduced to doing very little serious investigation and had become almost solely a public relations outfit with a debunking mandate To cite one example by the end of 1956 the number of cases listed as unsolved had dipped to barely 0 4 percent from the 20 to 30 it had been only a few years earlier Eventually Ruppelt requested reassignment at his departure in August 1953 his staff had been reduced from more than ten precise numbers of personnel varied to just two subordinates and himself His temporary replacement was a noncommissioned officer Most who succeeded him as Blue Book director exhibited either apathy or outright hostility to the subject of UFOs or were hampered by a lack of funding and official support UFO investigators often regard Ruppelt s brief tenure at Blue Book as the high water mark of public Air Force investigations of UFOs when UFO investigations were treated seriously and had support at high levels Thereafter Project Blue Book descended into a new Dark Ages from which many UFO investigators argue it never emerged However Ruppelt later came to embrace the Blue Book perspective that there was nothing extraordinary about UFOs he even labeled the subject a Space Age Myth The Captain Hardin era In March 1954 Captain Charles Hardin was appointed the head of Blue Book However most UFO investigations were conducted by the 4602nd and Hardin had no objection Ruppelt wrote that Hardin thinks that anyone who is even interested in UFOs is crazy They bore him In 1955 the Air Force decided that the goal of Blue Book should be not to investigate UFO reports but rather to reduce the number of unidentified UFO reports to a minimum By late 1956 the number of unidentifed sightings had dropped from the 20 25 of the Ruppelt era to less than 1 The Captain Gregory era Captain George T Gregory took over as Blue Book s director in 1956 Clark writes that Gregory led Blue Book in an even firmer anti UFO direction than the apathetic Hardin The 4602nd was dissolved and the 1066th Air Intelligence Service Squadron was charged with UFO investigations In fact there was actually little or no investigation of UFO reports a revised AFR 200 2 issued during Gregory s tenure emphasized that unidentified UFO reports must be reduced to a minimum One way that Gregory reduced the number of unexplained UFOs was by simple reclassification Possible cases became probable and probable cases were upgraded to certainties By this logic a possible comet became a probable comet while a probable comet was flatly declared to have been a misidentified comet Similarly if a witness reported an observation of an unusual balloon like object Blue Book usually classified it as a balloon with no research and qualification These procedures became standard for most of Blue Book s later investigations see Hynek s comments below The Major Friend era Major Robert J Friend was appointed the head of Blue Book in 1958 Friend made some attempts to reverse the direction Blue Book had taken since 1954 Clark writes that Friend s efforts to upgrade the files and catalog sightings according to various observed statistics were frustrated by a lack of funding and assistance Heartened by Friend s efforts Hynek organized the first of several meetings between Blue Book staffers and ATIC personnel in 1959 Hynek suggested that
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