Joined: 12 Oct 2006
|Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:12 pm Post subject: 1950s
|The UK Ministry of Defence’s UFO Project has its roots in a study commissioned in 1950 by the MOD’s then Chief Scientific Adviser, the great radar scientist Sir Henry Tizard. As a result of his insistence that UFO sightings should not be dismissed without some form of proper scientific study, the Department set up arguably the most marvellously-named committee in the history of the civil service, the Flying Saucer Working Party or the FSWP.
Frank Scully's 1950 Behind the Flying Saucers suggested that the U.S. government had recovered a crashed flying saucer and its dead occupants near Aztec, New Mexico, in 1948. It was later revealed that Scully had been the victim of a prank by "two veteran confidence artists". (Clark 1998, 295) Still, Scully's book sold well and perhaps helped shape later UFO conspiracy theories.
In August of 1950, Montanan baseball manager Nicholas Mariana films several UFOs with his color 16mm camera. Project Blue Book is called in and, after inspecting the film, Mariana claimed they returned it to him with critical footage removed, clearly showing the objects as disc-shaped. The incident sparks nation-wide media attention.
Donald Keyhoe was a retired U.S. Marine who wrote a series of popular books and magazine articles (published beginning in 1950), arguing that the U.S. government was suppressing UFO evidence. In 1956, Keyhoe helped establish NICAP, a powerful civilian UFO investigating group with many inside sources. Keyhoe became its director and continued his attacks on the Air Force. Other contemporary critics also charged that the United States Air Force was perpetrating a cover-up with its Project Blue Book.
The Robertson Panel was a secret, CIA-assembled scientific UFO review committee that met in January 1953. In part, it recommended a public relations campaign to reduce public interest in UFOs, including ridiculing and discrediting those who claim UFO encounters, and to spy on civilian UFO groups. The Robertson Panel's existence was first disclosed in 1956 by former Blue Book director, Edward Ruppelt, who had participated in the discussions. Immediately after the Panel, Blue Book public relations officer Al Chop told Ruppelt that, "We've been ordered to work up a national debunking campaign, planting articles in magazines and arranging broadcasts to make UFO reports sound like poppycock." (Dolan, 193-202) This protocol is still in effect.
A few weeks after the Robertson Panel, 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. In addition, UFO 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. (Dolan, 210-211)
In 1954 an automatic working station for UFO monitoring was installed at Shirley's Bay near Ottawa in Canada. After this station detected the first time a suspicious event, all data, which were gained by this station were classified as secret, although the cameras of the monitoring station could not make any pictures because of fog.
1956 saw the publication of Grey Barker's They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, the book which publicized the idea of sinister men in black who appear to UFO witnesses and warn them to keep quiet. There has been continued speculation that the men in black are government agents who harass and threaten UFO witnesses.
On January 22, 1958, when Donald Keyhoe appeared on CBS television, his statements on UFOs were precensored by the Air Force. During the show when Keyhoe tried to depart from the censored script to "reveal something that has never been disclosed before," CBS cut the sound, later stating Keyhoe was about to violate "predetermined security standards" and about to say something he wasn't "authorized to release." What Keyhoe was about to reveal were four publicly unknown military studies concluding UFOs were interplanetary (including the 1948 Project Sign Estimate of the Situation and a 1952 Project Blue Book engineering analysis of UFO motion presented at the Robertson Panel. [Timothy Good, 286-287; Richard Dolan 293-295]
Astronaut Gordon Cooper reported suppression of a flying saucer movie filmed in high clarity by two Edwards AFB range photographers on May 3, 1957. Cooper said he viewed developed negatives of the object, clearly showing a dish-like object with a dome on top and something like holes or ports in the dome. The photographers and another witness, when later interviewed by James McDonald, confirmed the story. Cooper said military authorities then picked up the film and neither he nor the photographers ever heard what happened to it. The incident was also reported in a few newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times. The official explanation, however, was that the photographers had filmed a weather balloon distorted by hot desert air.