Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

USAF ‘Project Blue Book’ details UFO reports in new archive

The archive of more than 12,000 UFO sightings is not the smoking gun to prove alleged sightings of flying saucers and little green men, but it’s a historical asset that chronicles decades of people mistaking meteors for something more.

By Nicole Hensley via NY Daily News

Don’t expect to find the famous 1947 Roswell incident, where witnesses allegedly saw body bags of aliens, in the Air Force reports of UFO sightings.

Don’t expect to find the famous 1947 Roswell incident, where witnesses allegedly saw body bags of aliens, in the Air Force reports of UFO sightings.

From weather balloons and meteors to Atlas missiles soaring high in the sky, the U.S. Air Force finally gave thousands of UFO reports spanning three decades an explanation.

After years of being stuck on microfilm at the National Archives, UFO enthusiast John Greenewald has made available more than 130,000 pages of the U.S. government’s “Project Blue Book.”

The archive of 12,600 reports have been declassified for several years, but until now, there’s been no easy way to read about Cocoa, Fla., cops seeing strange lights in the sky or the time a Shreveport, La., jokester played a flying saucer prank on a colleague.

“Proved to be practical joke perpetrated by one (redacted) … apparatus consisting of eighteen inch aluminum disk,” a July 7, 1947, report states. “Electrical condensers and wire was made in machine shop … and tossed from bldg (sic) into street as joke on (redacted).”

Though most of the reports perused by the Daily News meander toward the mundane — sightings of meteors blazing across the sky and weather balloons bobbing beyond the horizon — there are some gems.

Civilians and members of the military near Walker Air Force Base near Roswell, N.M., kept calling in UFO reports after the 1947 incident.

Civilians and members of the military near Walker Air Force Base near Roswell, N.M., kept calling in UFO reports after the 1947 incident.

“People have this fascination when it comes to UFOs. We can have our speculation that it’s top secret, but we simply don’t know,” Greenewald, of the Black Vault website, told the Daily News.

The entire collection obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests spans more than two decades of digitized and searchable reports. It’s hosted on Greenewald’s site dedicated to sharing government documents.

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Area 51: Myth and Reality

by Donald Prothero via Skepticblog

area_510_250pxIn the past few decades, this perfectly ordinary military base in the middle of the desert in southern Nevada has taken on mythic status. Most military bases have tight security, and only authorized military personnel and their contractors are allowed on base. This particular base is top secret, with much tighter security than most military land. Not only is it surrounded by a secured perimeter and motion detectors in the ground, but the guards travel the perimeter regularly, and have video security cameras monitoring everything that comes near the fence. It is also located in one of the most remote areas of sparsely populated Nevada, more than two hours of driving north out of Las Vegas. Because there is no way to see the base from the paved road, even from the highest peaks outside the base except Tikaboo Peak (a long hard desert hike), it can only be viewed from the air or from space. Naturally, that high level of secrecy has led to all sorts of speculation about what happens there, and an entire industry of books and movies and TV shows which need only mention the phrase “Area 51” and immediately their audience assumes that there are aliens or some kinds of weird government experiments going on there.

ATOMIC-ENERGY-COMMISSION_thumb1First of all, let’s clarify one misconception: the proper name of the base. Some of the common names of the base are “Groom Lake” or “Homey Airport” on civilian aeronautics maps, or the longer “Nevada Test and Training Range” in CIA documents, but the older CIA documents do use the term “Area 51”.  The name “Area 51” was indirectly named from the old grid system the Atomic Energy Commission used in the 1950s and 1960s to map the Nevada Test Site and the associated air bases. The original grid system numbering did not go as high as 51, but the Groom Lake area was purchased later and added to the secured perimeter of the base near Area 15 of the original grid; it is speculated that they just reversed 15 to 51 to get the number for the newly annexed area. The area has acquired additional security nicknames used to hide the true nature of the place, such as “Paradise Ranch”, the name that Lockheed Aircraft designer Kelly Johnson used to attract workers to project. According to Alexander Aciman in Time magazine:

Area 51 was cheekily nicknamed Paradise Ranch, so that intelligence officers and government employees wouldn’t have to tell their wives that they were moving the family to a rather large fenced-off area in the desert.

The U-2 spy plane, secretly built by Lockheed and the CIA and tested at Area 51

The U-2 spy plane, secretly built by Lockheed and the CIA and tested at Area 51

Other names include the CIA name “Watertown” (a reference to Watertown, New York, birthplace of CIA Director Allen Dulles), and “Dreamland Resort,” “Red Square,” “The Box,” or just “The Ranch”. After the U.S. Air Force took over the base from the CIA in the late 1970s, the name “Area 51” was discontinued, and it was called Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center (or simply Det. 3, AFFTC). As such, it was a remote operating location of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Today the official name of the Groom Lake base appears to be the National Classified Test Facility. The Test Wing (Det. 3, AFFTC) is still the primary occupant of the site.

There is also an Area 52. It is another name for the secret airfield and testing facility near Tonopah, Nevada, about 70 miles (110 km) northwest of Groom Lake. Many of the same aircraft that were developed and tested at Area 51 have their official base of operations at Area 52, especially the stealth aircraft.

For many decades, the activities in the base were top secret, so most of what was written about it was sheer guesswork or based on the reports of people who had worked there and spilled some of their information.

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