The Secret of Project Blue Book
Feb. 24, 2005 — -- Today, if you ask the Air Force about UFOs, it will cite its own 22-year study called Project Blue Book, which said there is no evidence that they are extraterrestrial vehicles and there is no evidence that they represent technology beyond our own.
Blue Book, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, investigated hundreds of UFO reports yearly throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
But the truth is Blue Book never became a serious, full-scale, scientific inquiry. The main purpose of the Air Force's UFO office was public relations, says Robert Goldberg, author of "Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America."
"That mission was denounce the UFOs, dismiss the UFOs, debunk the UFOs and anybody who believes in them -- just come up with answers and get this UFO thing out of the newspapers," he told ABC News.
Blue Book was far from a massive institute with a staff of white-coated lab technicians, said UFO researcher Mark Rodeghier. "There was a guy at a desk and a secretary and a private or someone there typing stuff. It was a very, very small project," he said.
Blue Book may have done some investigating, but it was overwhelmed by the volume of reports that were coming in.
Col. Robert Friend, the project's director from 1958 to 1963, told ABC News: "We wanted to explain as many sightings as possible, but we recognized that the amount of resources that would have been necessary in order to do this would have been far beyond those that we were ready to commit at the time."
He also recognized Project Blue Book's real purpose: "What they wanted to try to do was, I think, to re-educate the public regarding UFOs, to take away the aura of mystery."
And the best way to keep UFOs out of the newspapers -- and therefore, out of the public mind -- was to say repeatedly that they were nothing more than weather balloons or rare atmospheric conditions, like a star on the horizon.
The man most often responsible for making these explanations was Blue Book's one civilian scientist, Ohio State University astronomer J. Allen Hynek. Between 1948 and 1969, he was the lead investigator on thousands of cases.
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