During the latter half of 1951 there were important changes in the UFO project at ATIC and also in Air Force Intelligence at the Pentagon. In November, General John A. Samford replaced General Cabell as Director of Intelligence (Cabell became the Director of the Joint Staff for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and a year or so later retired from the Air Force and became an assistant director of the CIA). The new Air Force Intelligence Director soon learned that that the subject of UFOs received top level attention. There was also a change at ATIC: Col. Frank Dunn replaced the previous commander (Col. Watson). At the first meeting between Samford, Dunn and the New BLUE BOOK staff (Ruppelt), Dunn asked Samford if the United States had a secret weapon that could explain the saucer sightings. The answer was a firm no. (Recall that this was the answer given to the FBI in the summer of 1947.)
As you read through the following "UFO history" of 1952 keep in mind that there was already plenty of other news. The Korean war continued through 1952 (and many AF pilots in Korea sighted UFOs), the presidential election conventions were held during the summer and Ike Eisenhower was chosen to run against Adlai Stevenson; Eisenhower was elected in November. During the year atomic bombs were tested ten times by the USA and, to counter the Soviet Union's development of their atomic bomb, the world's first hydrogen bomb was tested (November 1, 1952; it destroyed the island Elugelab. President Truman pointed out that the "America stands in the shadow of another world war." So, there was plenty to think about without a major intrusion into world affairs by…something from out of this world!??
THE GENERAL'S SAUCER
On January 3, 1952, Brig. Gen. William M. Garland, Assistant for the Production of Intelligence, wrote a memorandum for General Samford with the title "(SECRET) Contemplated Action to Determine the Nature and Origin of the Phenomena Connected with the Reports of Unusual Flying Objects." This memorandum begins as follows:
1. The continued reports of unusual flying objects requires positive action to determine the nature and origin of the phenomena. The action taken thus far has been designed to track down and evaluate reports from casual observers throughout the country. Thus far, this action has produced results of doubtful value and the inconsistencies inherent in the nature of the reports has given neither positive nor negative proof of the claims.
Here we find a general in Air Force Intelligence (AFI) admitting that there was no negative proof of the claims. Yet the Air Force had been saying publicly for several years that there was "negative proof"...that all sightings had been explained. Clearly the men "on the inside" were more honest with each other than they were with the American people about the fact that they had not been able to prove flying saucers were only mistakes or figments of the imagination.
By this time it had become a standard procedure for the military to appeal to the Soviet Menace in order to legitimize requests for action and the expenditure of funds. General Garland, too, justified the added effort he would propose by referring to the potential Soviet threat, whether he believed it or not:
2. It is logical to relate the reported sightings to the known development of aircraft, jet propulsion, rockets and range extension capabilities in Germany and the U.S.S.R. In this connection, it is to be noted that certain developments by the Germans, particularly the Horton wing, jet propulsion, and refueling, combined with their extensive employment of V-1 and V-2 weapons during World War II, lend credence to the possibility that the flying objects may be of German and Russian origin. The developments mentioned above were contemplated and operational between 1941 and 1944 and subsequently fell into the hands of the Soviets at the end of the war. There is evidence that the Germans were working on these projects as far back as 1931 to 1938. Therefore, it may be assumed that the Germans had at least a 7 to 10 year lead over the United States in the development of rockets, jet engines and aircraft of the Horton-wing design. The Air Corps developed refueling experimentally as early as 1928, but did not develop operational capability until 1948.
Notice how "cleverly" the general has described the possible threat from Russian developments based on German war research and has concluded that the Russians might have a 7 to 10 year lead on the United States in producing advanced aircraft. Nowhere did he mention that the same argument had been rejected by experts in aeronautics in previous years because (a) the ATIC and AFI investigators in 1947 and again in 1948 could not accept the idea that the Soviets were that far ahead of us and (b) even if they were that far ahead they would never fly their advanced aircraft over the United States (we wouldn't do the reverse; if one crashed we would have access to their secret developments). Could it be that he didn't know about the previous rejection of the "Soviet Hypothesis?" Could it be that he was not sufficiently intelligent to deduce for himself that the idea of the Soviets testing their advanced aircraft over the United States was ridiculous? Or could it be that he actually doubted the Soviet Hypothesis but used it anyway to justify spending money on saucer investigation? (We will shortly see how this same ploy was used by a top defense scientist to get money for a trip to Europe to study, among other things, flying saucer sightings!!)
Having established a "credible" threat General Garland continued:
3. In view of the above facts and the persistent reports of unusual flying objects over parts of the United States, particularly the east and west coast and in the vicinity of the atomic energy production and testing facilities it is apparent that positive action must be taken to determine the nature of the objects and, if possible, their origin. Since it is a known fact that the Soviets did not detonate an atomic bomb prior to 1949, it is believed possible that the Soviets may have developed the German aircraft designs at an accelerated rate in order to have a suitable carrier for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, the Soviet may have a carrier without the weapons required while we have relatively superior weapons with relatively inferior carriers available. If the Soviets should get the carrier and the weapon, combined with adequate defensive aircraft, they might surpass us technologically for a sufficient period of time to permit them to execute a decisive air campaign against the United States and her allies. The basic philosophy of the Soviets has been to surpass the western powers technologically and the Germans may have given them the opportunity.
In the preceding paragraph the general pressed two "hot buttons." One was the oblique reference to sightings of UFOs/saucers/strange phenomena over the atomic research installations, namely, green fireballs and the "disc variation" seen numerous times by dozens of witnesses starting in December 1948 and continuing through 1949 and 1950 with occasional reports in 1951. These installations were considered the keystone to our development of defensive atomic weapons (note his use of the phrase "weapons of mass destruction"). Although the Air Force publicly played down the importance of these sightings, it is clear that, privately, the top officials were worried, or at least paying attention. The other hot button was the fact that the Soviets, now with a known nuclear capability, might have a delivery system superior to the bombers of the United States and her allies, and flying saucer sightings might be evidence of this superior delivery system.
The general concluded:
4. In view of the facts outlined above it is considered mandatory that the Air Force take positive action at once to definitely determine the nature and, if possible, the origin of the reported unusual flying objects. The following action is now contemplated:
a) require ATIC to provide at least three teams to be matched up with an equal number of teams from ADC (Air Defense Command) for the purpose of taking radar scope photographs and visual photographs of the phenomena
b) select sites for these teams based on concentrations of already reported sightings over the United States (these areas are, generally, the Seattle area, the Albuquerque area and the New York-Philadelphia area) and
c) take the initial steps in this project during early January, 1952.
It is obvious that the general wanted action, ostensibly to protect the United States from the possible Soviet advancements in aeronautical research. However, information contained in a memorandum written by Capt. Ruppelt and contained within his private papers, suggests that Garland may have had an ulterior motive, a hidden reason for wanting a better UFO investigation! According to Ruppelt, "Gen. Garland was my boss at ATIC from the fall of 1951 until I left. He was a moderately confirmed believer. (my emphasis) He had seen a UFO while he was stationed in Sacramento, California. He was Gen. Samford's assistant in the
Pentagon before he came to ATIC..."
What's this? General Garland was a witness and a "moderately" confirmed believer? (As you read what the top generals were doing and thinking, please keep in mind the official position on flying saucers/UFOs: because they don't exist, it is impossible to see one...so if you THINK YOU DO see one up there, LOOK AWAY [or, better yet, keep your eyes to the ground, always!])
One may conclude that his observation, at the very least, convinced him that something unexplained was "out there" and flying around. He may have privately rejected the Soviet explanation but used it anyway as a justification for research because he wanted the research done but didn't want to mention the "interplanetary hypothesis" that had been rejected in 1948 by General Vandenberg. This possibility gains further support from what he did only a month or so after this document was written: he suggested the interplanetary hypothesis to writers of a LIFE Magazine article to be described!
Ruppelt began the process of carrying out Garland's recommendations, but it was slow going. By the time things were starting to move in the late spring PBB was swamped with sightings. The investigation teams proposed by the general were never formed but a plan for instrumentally recording sighting information was carried out. According to a PBB staff Study (written in July), in June the Air Defense Command (ADC) issued a requirement that radar scope cameras be available to radar operators. During the spring and summer of 1952 the Collection Division of ATIC developed a stereo camera with a diffraction grating for color analysis of photographed objects. ATIC ordered 100 of these special cameras to be delivered in September. PBB planned to give these cameras to military and civilian control tower operators and to the Ground Observer Corps. Too bad these cameras arrived too late for the big flap!
|The April 7, 1952, issue of LIFE Magazine....an issue that would not soon be forgotten!!|
The cover of this issue was an irresistible combination of sultry sex and saucers. It shows a dreamy...or is it sleepy? …. Marilyn (you know which Marilyn, and I don't mean Manson!!!), with her eyes half open and her luxuriously loose dress slid well down below her shoulders. She was the "talk of Hollywood," the cover asserted. For those who could remove their eyes from her provocative appearance there was, in the upper right hand corner of the cover, an equally provocative statement which must have come as a shock to many people: "There is a case for interplanetary saucers."
I don't know how many copies of this issue were sold... but I bet they sold a bunch! (The
magazine cost only 20 cents!)
WHAT? A CASE FOR INTERPLANETARY SAUCERS?
THE WRITERS MUST BE CRAZY!!!
The case for interplanetary saucers was made in an article written by H. B. Darrach, Jr. and Robert Ginna. The title: "Have We Visitors from Space?" Next to the title was the attention-grabbing answer to this question: "The Air Force is now ready to concede that many saucer and fireball sightings still defy explanation; here Life offers some scientific evidence that there is a real case for interplanetary flying saucers." The article, based on a year long investigation by Ginna, included information directly from the Air Force file. Ginna had visited ATIC on March 3, 1952, and, with the complete cooperation of Captain Ruppelt and the PBB staff, he had reviewed sighting reports and analyses, some of which were declassified at his request. The authors also interviewed high level Air Force officials at the Pentagon. They were told that the Air Force was carrying on a "constant intelligence investigation" and would attempt to get radar and photographic data and that "attempts will be made to recover such unidentified objects." They were also told that the Air Force was, for the first time since December, 1949, inviting "all citizens to report their sightings to the nearest Air Force installation." (I suppose the Air Force regretted that invitation about two months later!)
In the article the authors presented discussions of 10 previously unpublished sightings and concluded that Russian weapons, atmospheric phenomena, Skyhook balloons, secret weapons, hallucinations and psychological aberrations could not explain these cases. According to the authors, "These disclosures, sharply amending past Air Force policy, climaxed a review by LIFE with Air Force officials of all facts known...." and "The Air Force is now ready to concede that many saucer and fireball sightings still defy explanation." The authors quoted Dr. Walther Reidel, a German rocket scientist, who said that, in his opinion, these objects "have an out-of-this world basis." To top it off, the authors quoted an intelligence officer (Ruppelt?) as saying that "The higher you go in the Air Force the more seriously they take the flying saucers." A reader of the article might well have gotten the idea that top Air Force officers were thinking "interplanetary." (This is, in fact, what Air Force Intelligence told the FBI several months and many hundreds of sightings later! See below.) The article ended with a series of questions which pointed toward the interplanetary answer: "What power urges them at such terrible speeds through the sky? Who, or what, is aboard? Where do they come from? Why are they here? What are the intentions of the beings who control them? Somewhere in the dark skies there may be those who know!"
The LIFE magazine statement that the Air Force was taking saucers seriously was diametrically opposed to many previous, public AF statements but, of course, the LIFE article did not say that the AF had endorsed the interplanetary hypothesis. Even in private at ATIC there was no endorsement of the interplanetary hypothesis. In a Secret monthly Status Report on the activities of Project Blue Book, dated April 30, 1952, Capt. Ruppelt wrote "It should be noted here that the conclusions reached by LIFE are not those of the Air Force. No proof exists that these objects are from outer space." Actually Ruppelt should have been more specific in saying that the ATIC/PBB staff did not endorse the LIFE conclusion because, as he admitted in his 1956 book, "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects," other, high level Air Force officers did endorse that conclusion. According to Ruppelt, some "high ranking officers in the Pentagon - so high that their personal opinion was almost policy" did believe the saucers were extraterrestrial and expressed that opinion to Mr. Ginna. At least one of these high ranking officers was none other than General Garland! (Recall that Ruppelt, in his personal papers, noted that Garland had seen a UFO while he was stationed in Sacramento, CA.) Ruppelt also wrote the following: "(Garland) was the inspiration behind the LIFE article by Ginna. He gave Ginna his ideas and prompted LIFE to stick their necks out."
According to PBB records, the LIFE article was mentioned in more than 350 newspapers across the United States and ATIC received 110 letters concerning the article. LIFE itself received more than 700 letters over the next few weeks. The letters discussed old sightings and theories about sightings.
The PBB staff expected that the article would cause people to report all sorts of sightings. They braced for an immediate onslaught of new sightings, but it didn't come, at least not for several weeks. On the day after the magazine hit the stands Blue Book received 9 sightings, but then only a couple on the next day. (There was an increase in the sighting rate in Canada in April and there were also reports from Europe and quite a few from the Korean war zone.)
In the following days other publications disputed the LIFE article. In the April 12 issue, The New York Times criticized Darrach and Ginna for being "uncritical." The New York Times author claimed that the PROJECT GRUDGE report of two years proved that all sightings could be explained. Of course he did not know that General Cabell had described the GRUDGE report as "worthless tripe." Next
ONE THE LEGACY OF 1952:
YEAR OF THE UFO
TWO 1952, THE YEAR OF THE
THREE THE INTERPLANETARY
FOUR THE WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND
FIVE A WAR OF WORDS or A WAR OF
PAGE SIX SHIPS
FROM ANOTHER PLANET
PAGE SEVEN SHIPS
FROM ANOTHER PLANET (con't)
PAGE EIGHT MORE
PAGE NINE THE CIA INVESTIGATES BLUE BOOK
PAGE TEN UFOS
AND THE SOVIET THREAT
PAGE ELEVEN LEGACY
OF THE ROBERTSON PANEL
PAGE TWELVE STATISTICAL POSTSCRIPT - Project
Blue Book Report
PAGE THIRTEEN APPENDIX
The Rogue River Sighting
PAGE FOURTEEN APPENDIX
The Rogue River Sighting (con't)