UFO in the 1940s – 1960s in the U.S.
Recently, for the purposes of my sci fi novel ‘329 Years Awake’ I’ve been researching various UFO themes, and I am particularly fascinated with the 1947-1963 period. Let’s recap what was going on in the U.S. history during that period.
During Truman administration, in 1947, near Roswell New Mexico, we all know what happened. At least we know that something definitely happened. Namely, something crashed on a farm, and the rest is history. High ranking military looked into that crash and briefly it created hype in the media. Thanks to that event, good ‘al folks in Roswell still have jobs selling UFO merchandise. The official version of the events: a weather balloon crash. The two unofficial versions state that it either was a top secret military object or the extraterrestrial UFO.
Here’s what happened next, in pure facts. The Roswell and other lesser known UFO claims led to creating a military Project Sign (1947-1949), and it’s successors Project Grudge (1949-1952) and the most famous one Project Blue Book (1952-1969). These are the facts. Also the fact is that plenty of cash and manpower was allocated for these research projects.
During the Sign era, each air force base had a Sign officer designated with special authority – to question anyone on the subject of UFO suspicion and not to follow the proper chain of command. This is a rather unprecedented scope of authority which points to the seriousness of Truman’s perception of the situation.
In March 1952, began the new era of the UFO investigation, namely the revamped Project Blue Book.
In July 1952, a famous incident of numerous UFO sightings in Washington DC was recorded. Apparently, in Washington DC, over a period of Jul. 12-29, numerous sightings of UFOs were repeatedly confirmed by:
- The air traffic controllers on the radars;
- The radars of at least two air bases USAF F-94 in Delaware whose jets were in the sky repeatedly trying to chase the thing and USAF Andrews whose servicemen traced it on the radars;
- Pilots on the runways of the Washington DC National Airport (now Reagan); and
- Numerous eyewitnesses on the ground.
The ‘lights’ were spotted over the White House, the Capitol and Pentagon. This scare lead to creation of the Robertson Panel on the request of the CIA and the Truman administration. Officially the panel debunked the event saying it was an unusual weather pattern.
Project Blue Book produced a famous Report #14 written by then head of the Project Edward J Ruppelt. According to the report, of the thousands of ‘cases’ (the UFO claims), about 23% could not be explained away with any natural or logical phenomena (and I suspect they tried hard to debunk them). Ruppelt ended up writing a book ‘The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects‘ which is in public domain and free on kindle. I just picked it up yesterday, but the summary claims that the work on the Sign and the Blue Book made him if not a devout believer, but at least an entertainer of the possibility of the extraterrestrial origin of at least some of the claims.
On Jan. 20, 1953 Dwight Eisenhower takes the presidential office. Eisenhower was a five star general, and according to some rumors personally witnessed something of an unidentified origin, perhaps a UFO. According to some sources, in 1952, when on a boat USS Rosevelt, he observed a bright light for over 20 minutes. As a U.S. president, Eisenhower certainly received an access to all the UFO materials. Not only he continued the Project Blue Book, but he took it further.
Consider the historic context. The Cold War. The Space Race. In 1957, the USSR launches first two satellites – Sputnik 1 with a beacon and Sputnik 2 with an unfortunate passenger on board – a stray dog named Laika. Laika dies within five hours from heat exhaustion and perhaps stress, because by all means the ride to the orbit was bumpy, but it symbolically stakes the supremacy of the Soviets in delivering a living thing to the orbit.
Now we have some evidence that Eisenhower was aware of the Soviets’ capacity to deliver a small payload to the orbit, but he played a smart chess move. Allowing the Soviets to access the space first, we now have a precedent that anyone can go to space without the permission of the UN or NATO or anyone else. The game was on.
DARPA on the Fringe of Science
In 1958, Eisenhower establishes at least two agencies that changed the space exploration and the world of technology forever. First one was NASA and the second one was DARPA. While NASA was concerned with space exploration, DARPA was a an agency where science fiction became reality. It’s mandate was described as ‘high risk – high gain’ fringe science exploration to establish military and technological superiority of the U.S. not only for the immediate needs, but also for the future.
DARPA is extremely important in understanding of the Project Blue Book, and, perhaps, the Roswell events. The UFO proponents bring forward eye-witness accounts of the 1947 wreckage containing unique, never before seen materials, pieces of some aircraft, and even perhaps several, presumably alien, bodies. What DARPA has to do with any of this? Check out this video. Over it’s lifetime DARPA is responsible for radical revamping of the way we do technology, internet and GPS being only a few of it’s accomplishments.
There’s a curious fact about DARPA’s establishment. It’s first director was a former General Electric CEO Roy Johnson, who went from making $160.000 to $18.000 a year at DARPA. What would compel a well-off businessman to make such a career move? If only perhaps a promise of discovery so grandiose that rendered money irrelevant. Hypothetically, would an opportunity to reverse-engineer alien technology be a good enough reason? I leave this question for your consideration.
If DARPA’s quantum leap in technology is not impressive, think about one of it’s more obscure accomplishments: the Arecibo communication array. According to the DARPA website, “Located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory houses the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. The giant telescope “dish” is 1,000 feet (305 meters) in diameter, 167 feet (51 meters) deep and covers an area of approximately 20 acres (0.08 square kilometers). Development of the Arecibo facility was initially supported by ARPA in the 1960s as part of the DEFENDER Program, a broad-based missile defense program. It was intended for study of the structure of the upper ionosphere and its interactions with electromagnetic signals and communication.”
In the pop culture, Arecibo is known for the first attempt to communicate with the aliens. According to SETI website, “In 1974, the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space was made from Puerto Rico. The broadcast formed part of the ceremonies held to mark a major upgrade to the Arecibo Radio Telescope. The transmission consisted of a simple, pictorial message, aimed at our putative cosmic companions in the globular star cluster M13. This cluster is roughly 21,000 light-years from us, near the edge of the Milky Way galaxy, and contains approximately a third of a million stars.”
Why M13 21.000 lightyears away? Why not something closer? But this is not even the most important question. Although the Project Blue Book is officially closed by 1969, in the 1970s, the U.S. government, which officially does not believe in aliens, persistently attempts to communicate with them. The most notable and expensive projects, of course, are the Voyager 1 and 2 crafts with the ‘message in the bottle’ on board – the so-called golden records. Read about some other messages and time capsules here.
Why spend money on something you don’t believe in? Eisenhower was sighted once saying “Anyone who would spend $40 billion in a race to the moon for national prestige is nuts”. This line is usually interpreted as a buyer’s remorse for the NASA budget that grew out of control. Indeed, Eisenhower was a fiscal conservative, but he was the vehicle behind creating NASA and any technological advancement the U.S. can get it’s hands on. In this light, perhaps this quote should be interpreted as an acknowledgement that the U.S. is in the space race for a much greater goal, unlike the narrow-minded and ego-ridden USSR.
Credibility of the Majestic 12 Leak
Now, to the Majestic 12. In 1984, a bundle of the allegedly ‘leaked’ photocopies of documents surfaced in the ufologist circles. The two documents are usually sighted:
- Dated 18 Nov. 1947 and signed by Truman order to create a top secret research group on the subject of the UFO, allegedly in the wake of the Roswell incident and others. The group was supposed to have the highest clearance and consist of the military and civilian experts.
- The memo on briefing of the future president Eisenhower, also signed by Truman, on the subject of the Majestic 12 activity.
There are a few reasons why I think this particular ‘leak’ is a hoax.
First, the way it surfaced was not credible. Allegedly a movie director who was working on the UFO movie received an anonymous envelope with a roll of film. When it was developed, it contained photocopies of these documents. If I was a credible person who wanted to make an important UFO information public, I would use a more credible source, like the national media, and not one, but many, and would perhaps include more information than just this film.
Second, it is unclear what was the relation of Majestic 12 and the leadership of the Project Sign which we know officially existed. Also, it seems redundant to have both Sign and Majestic 12 when the goal is to limit the exposure to sensitive information.
Third, it is claimed that the Majestic 12 refused to let Eisenhower in on the secret, and only after a threat to bring the National Guard to the air force base which served as the headquarters for the group, they caved in. This is such a silly and unnecessary plot twist that makes the whole story not credible. Why would they refuse to brief Eisenhower if they suppose to directly report to him?
Take this article with a grain salt, of course. I am fascinated with this period of history, the space race, and I love sci fi. I don’t know what actually happened in all of these famous UFO sightings, but I think that the hoax like the Majestic 12 leak is removing us further from the truth and ridiculing the subject entirely. I am exploring these themes in my novel ’329 Years Awake’ for the purpose of pure entertainment, and hope that you will enjoy it with me. You can sign up for the free ARC copy on http://www.jalapenopublishing.com, on my page and see how these themes will play out in my story. Also I’d love hear your comments about all of this.
Live long and prosper, my friends!
Copyright 2016 Ellie Maloney