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Seen a UFO? In the ‘50s, You Could Report It In This Easy Questionnaire

January 9, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

Say you’re out walking in the desert and see a flash of light in the sky that you can’t identify. If this happened between 1952 and 1969, you could report that light to Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force’s project to investigate unidentified flying objects—aka, UFOs.

Project Blue Book was the longest-running official government inquiry into UFOs. Based at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, the project investigated thousands of incidents. An official questionnaire asked UFO sighters to describe exactly what they saw and when they saw it. A section of the questionnaire instructed:

“Draw a picture that will show the shape of the object or objects. Label and include in your sketch any details of the object that you saw such as wings, protrusions, etc., and especially exhaust trails or vapor trails. Place an arrow beside the drawing to show the direction the object was moving.”

View the 3 images of this gallery on the original article

One of the most famous sightings reported to Project Blue Book was the 1964 Lonnie Zamora incident just south of Socorro, New Mexico. Zamora was a policeman who, while on patrol, saw an egg-shaped craft fly over his car and land. He drove over to it and spied two figures outside of the craft, who then entered it and took off again. Of the more than 12,000 UFO sightings between 1947 and 1969 that the Air Force investigated, the Zamora incident remains one of the 701 unexplained sightings.

The Air Force’s investigation of UFOs started in 1948 with Project Sign. The year before, a businessman named Kenneth Arnold had claimed that, while flying a plane near Mount Rainier in Washington state, he’d spied nine crescent-shaped objects speeding along “like saucers skipping on water.” Newspaper accounts that mixed up his words helped popularize the term “flying saucer.”

After the Mount Rainier incident, UFO sightings increased, and the Air Force decided to study them. The country was in the early stages of the Cold War, and some officials suspected that these mysterious objects were secret Soviet Union aircrafts that posed a threat to the U.S.

The Air Force’s first UFO investigation, Project Sign, was succeeded in 1949 by Project Grudge, which shut down at the end of that year after concluding that UFO sightings were the result of hysteria, hoaxes, mental illness or the misidentification of known objects. …read more


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