The "Project Blue Book" was one of several systematic surveys by the US Air Force's intelligence agency to collect and evaluate UFO sightings by Air Force pilots, Air Force radar stations, and other members of the Air Force, as well as on-site investigation. The study started in 1952 and was the third of its kind after "Sign" (1947) and "Grudge" (1949). The end of the project was ordered in December 1969 and all activities were stopped by the end of January 1970.

Project Sign, Project Grudge

The Project Sign was established in 1947 and also covered most of 1948. Some of the staff, including project manager Robert Sneider, preferred the extraterrestrial hypothesis as the best explanation for some UFO reports. Senior executives then dissolved the project and the final report said that while some UFOs were real aircraft, there wasn't enough data to determine their origin.

The "Project Grudge" followed in February 1949 and everything was assessed on the premise that there were no UFOs. Mockery spread in the Pentagon and many treated the subject as a ridiculous joke. The staff examined little to nothing, but at the same time explained the opposite. Some military officers spread so much malice and ridicule that generals had to demand respect for the reports and their observers. The public was deliberately misinformed. Pilots were portrayed as incompetent and hallucinatory, and generals lied to each other. The final report of August 1949 cited the misinterpretation of conventional objects, mass hysteria, lies by persons with a need for validity and psychopathological persons as explanations for UFOs.

Project Blue Book

In 1951 the new "Project Blue Book" was founded under the direction of Edward J. Ruppelt. He tried to make the investigations more systematic and scientific. In particular, he promoted standardization of the questionnaires faced by personnel who had made sightings.

In 1954, the Project Blue Book published the Project Blue Book — Special Report No. 14, which included sighting reports and tables. A total of around 3,200 sightings were documented by the Project Blue Book. The sightings were categorized according to known, unknown and insufficient information, and the quality of the reports was rated on a scale of one to four.

Around 69% of the cases were categorized as known, 9% lacked further information, 22% were rated as unknown. 33% of all excellent cases were unknown compared to only 17% of the worst cases. Cases that were observed particularly reliably, for example by several trustworthy and experienced people, were rated as excellent. Furthermore, the known and the unknown sightings differed significantly in the observed features. Despite these statistically striking circumstances, the Air Force claimed the report would confirm that none of the sightings could be linked to extraterrestrial vehicles. Edward J. Ruppelt criticized this evaluation of the report in his 1956 book "Report On Unidentified Flying Objects". He believed that the report had been misused for political purposes without considering the content.

Project Blue Book's astronomical advisor was J. Allen Hynek, director of the McMillin Observatory at Ohio State University. He also described the project from his point of view (New York 1972, The UFO Experience - A Scientific Inquiry, 1978 UFO Report — A research report). In 1973 he founded CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies).

Condon Committee and termination of Project Blue Book

The Condon Committee was an investigative commission announced by the USAF as independent and objective, headed by Edward Condon of the University of Colorado. It should evaluate all UFO incident records collected up to that point. The Project Blue Book ended in 1969. After serious internal disagreements, the Condon Committee came to the conclusion in January 1969 of the irrelevance of the UFO sightings for science and the superfluous further investigations. The USAF based this on the reason for the termination of Project Blue Book.

The final report contains statistics on 12,618 reported incidents from 1947 to 1969. Most of the incidents could be reported can be traced back to natural phenomena or conventional missiles. According to Condon, some reports were deliberate forgeries. 701 incidents (approx. 6%) were classified as "unidentified".

Criticism of Project Blue Book

David R. Saunders is said to have received a memo from the Commission's Project Manager, Robert Low, which was said to have been written shortly before the Commission started its work and is said to have outright stated what the Commission should have done which way the public should be deceived. After the public found out about this, Saunders was fired; another employee wrote a detailed memo about blatant grievances to Condon and acknowledged her cooperation. Other UFO experts who were invited to participate — e.g. B. Donald E. Keyhoe (NICAP) — also withdrew.

After the discontinuation of "Blue Book" in 1969, J. Allen Hynek published in 1972 a book called "The UFO Experience", in which he gave facts and figures from his point of view and above all about his experiences reported in Project Sign / Grudge / Blue Book. According to his account, the USAF was constantly trying to deceive the public about the reality and extent of the UFO problem, which he was not without involvement in. However, Hynek focused primarily on the scientific side of the problem and sharply criticized the inadequacy of the equipment and the unscientific nature of Project Blue Book. In the meantime, however, recent studies on American fascination with UFOs and the state's interest in them have appeared.

Head of Project Blue Book

List of Project Blue Book leaders

March 1952February 1953Capt. E.J. Ruppelt
February 1953July 19531st Lt. Bob Olsson
July 1953May 1954Capt. E.J. Ruppelt
March 1954April 1956Capt. Charles Hardin
April 1956October 1958Capt. George T. Gregory
October 1958January 1963Maj. (später Lt. Col.) Robert Friend
Januar< 1963December 1969Maj. (später Lt. Col.) Hector Quintanilla


The files of the Project Blue Book are stored in the National Archive under the Freedom of Information Act and are open to the public. The microfilm archive can also be accessed and searched in full on the Internet (see web links). However, eyewitness names were deleted from the documents. The document also includes references to two studies by the University of Colorado and a public statement (UFO Fact Sheet) that clarifies that no evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles could be found in any of the cases examined.

Web links

  • Condon Report 1969 (joint project of Project 1947 and the skeptic organization NCAS):
  • Robertson Panel:
  • National Archives and Records Administration:
  • Project Blue Book (UFO) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
  • Project Blue Book Archive:


  • Project Blue Book Special Report # 14, pp. Vii f., Section: Summary:
  • Project Blue Book Special Report # 14, pp. 10-14, section: Evaluation of individual reports:
  • Project Blue Book Special Report # 14, p. 18, Figure 2
  • Project Blue Book Special Report # 14, p. 24, Figure 8
  • Project Blue Book Special Report # 14, p. 94, section: CONCLUSIONS,
  • David Jacobs: The UFO Controversy in America. Indiana University Press, Bloomington 1975.
  • Kevin D. Randle: The UFO dossier. 100 years of government secrets, conspiracies and cover-ups. Visible Ink Press, Detroit MI 2016
  • J. Allen Hynek: The Hynek UFO Report. 1st edition. Sphere Books Limited, New York 1978, p. 25.

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