It’s one of the more mysterious episodes in American military history: the creation of a top-secret task force to investigate UFOs.
But did Project Blue Book really seek to uncover the truth – or cover it up?
The project marked the dawn of the ‘UFO age’, and with 700 cases still ‘unsolved’, it’s still something that obsesses UFO fans today.
A new History Channel drama starring Aiden Gillen explores the history of the project – and how it spawned the first ‘ufologist’
Executive producer and writer David O’Leary told a panel at Comic-Con this week, ‘On the subject of UFOs, part of the story is the cover-up, the lying, the misinformation campaign to control public perception.’
In one chilling encounter, Air Force pilots encountered radar blips which seemed to ‘disappear’ every time their planes got near in 1952.
In Project Blue Book, researchers led by a former astronomy professor, J Allen Hynek (played by Gillen) analysed 12,618 UFO sightings.
While the research officially concluded that there were no aliens, Hynek became a passionate believer in UFOs, who wrote books on the subject and founded the Center for UFO Studies.
Nigel Watson, author of the UFO Investigations Manual, said, ‘The USAF set up Project Blue Book on 25 March 1952. It had a policy of demystifying UFO reports and its powers to investigate cases were severely reduced.
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‘Blue Book became the public face for official UFO investigations, but it mainly operated as a repository of information and an outlet for debunking cases.
‘After collecting 12,618 sighting reports, of which 701 remained unsolved, it ended on 30 January 1970, based on the view that: “Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.’
It’s worth noting, however, that the Project Blue Book archives are now freely available online – and they don’t contain any evidence of crashed spaceships or alien autopsies.
Watson, says, ‘At least 10,000 UFO reports collected by the US, Project Blue Book, have been put online and many other governments have released their UFO files.