By: Joy Healey
When the first UFO story hit the headlines shortly after June 24, 1947, newspapers all over the United States were reporting the first sighting
The story told how nine very bright, disk-shaped objects were seen by Kenneth Arnold, a Boise, Idaho, businessman, while he was flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, in the state of Washington. With journalistic license, reporters converted Arnold's description of the individual motion of each of the objects, "like a saucer skipping across water", into "flying saucer," a name for the objects themselves.
In the years that passed since Arnold's memorable sighting, the term has became so common that it found a place in Webster's Dictionary and is known today in most languages in the world.
For a while after the Arnold sighting, the term "flying saucer" was used to describe all disk-shaped objects that were seen flashing through the sky at fantastic speeds. Before long, reports were made of objects other than disks, and these were also called flying saucers. Today the words are popularly applied to anything seen in the sky that cannot be identified as a common, everyday object.
Thus a flying saucer can be a formation of lights, a single light, a sphere, or any other shape; and it can be any color. Performance wise, flying saucers can hover, go fast or slow, go high or low, turn 90-degree corners, or disappear almost instantaneously.
Clearly the term "flying saucer" is open to interpretation when objects of every imaginable shape and performance are labeled as such. For this reason the military prefers the more general, if less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short.
Officially the military uses the term "flying saucer" on only two occasions. First in an explanatory sense, as when briefing people who are unacquainted with the term "UFO": "UFO, you know, flying saucers." And second in a derogatory sense, for purposes of ridicule, as when it is observed, "He says he saw a flying saucer."
This second form of usage is the exclusive property of those persons who positively know that all UFOs are nonsense. Fortunately, if only as a matter of coutesy, those in this category are reducing in number. One by one these people drop out, starting with the instant they see their first UFO.
Some weeks after the first UFO was seen on June 24, 1947, the Air Force established a project to investigate and analyze all UFO reports. When the project first began, opinions ranged from near panic, to total derision for anyone who dared to even mentioned the words "flying saucer."
This contemptuous attitude toward "flying saucer nuts" prevailed from mid-1949 to mid-1950. During that interval many of the people who were, or had been, associated with the project believed that the public was suffering from "war nerves."
Early in 1950 the project, for all practical purposes, was closed out; at least it rated only minimum effort. Those in power now reasoned that if you didn't mention the words "flying saucers" the people would forget them and the saucers would go away. But this reasoning was false, for instead of vanishing; the UFO reports got better and better.
Airline pilots, military pilots, generals, scientists, and dozens of other people were reporting UFO's, and in greater detail than in reports of the past. Radars, which were being built for air defense, began to pick up some very unusual targets, thus lending technical corroboration to the unsubstantiated claims of human observers.
As a result of the continuing accumulation of more impressive UFO reports, official interest stirred. Early in 1951 verbal orders came down from Major General Charles P. Cabell, then Director of Intelligence for Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, to make a study reviewing the UFO situation for Air Force Headquarters.
The study was given the code name Project Blue Book. "EJR", who possessed impeccable credentials, supervised until late in 1953. During the Second World War EJR was a B-29 bombardier and radar operator. After the war, he went back to college and not long after, received a degree in aeronautical engineering. To keep his reserve status while in school, he flew as a navigator in an Air Force Reserve Troop Carrier Wing.
While compiling Project Blue Book, EJR and members of his staff traveled close to half a million miles. They investigated dozens of UFO reports, and read and analyzed several thousand more. These included every report ever received by the Air Force.
In addition to ten regular staff on Project Blue Book, there were numerous paid consultants, from every area of science. Everyone involved had Top Secret security clearances so security was not an issue in the investigations. This organization was made up of a reporting network consisting of every Air Force base intelligence officer and every Air Force radar station in the world, together with the Ground Observer Corps of the Air Defense Command. This reporting net sent Project Blue Book reports on every conceivable type of UFO, by every conceivable type of person. What did these people actually see when they reported a UFO? Putting aside truly unidentifiable flying objects for the present, this question has several answers.
Often it has been positively proved that people have reported balloons, airplanes, stars, and many other common objects as UFOs. The people who make such reports don't recognize these common objects because something in their surroundings temporarily assumes an unfamiliar appearance.
Unusual lighting conditions are a common cause of such illusions. A balloon will glow like a "ball of fire" just at sunset. Or an airplane that is not visible to the naked eye suddenly starts to reflect the sun's rays and appears to be a "silver ball". Pilots in F-94 jet interceptors chase Venus in the daytime and fight with balloons at night, and people in Los Angeles see weird lights.
In reality, did Project Blue Book ever prove the existence of UFOs? The hassle over the word "proof" boils down to one question: What constitutes proof? Does a UFO have to land at the River Entrance to the Pentagon, near the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices? Or is it proof when a ground radar station detects a UFO, sends a jet to intercept it, the jet pilot sees it, and locks on with his radar, only to have the UFO streak away at a phenomenal speed? Is it proof when a jet pilot fires at a UFO and sticks to his story even under the threat of court-martial? Does this constitute proof?
Project Blue Book recorded the facts; but you must decide for yourself.
How real are UFOs? What actually is a UFO? How credible is the evidence? "Project Blue Book" a fascinating and authoritative e-book about unidentified flying objects. (UFOs). Not merely an e-book; it is a report, and is the first time ever that anyone, either military or civilian, has assembled into one document the complete facts about this fascinating subject. Learn more at http://www.project-blue-book.com/