December 15, 1995
To whom it may concern:
We believe that this Briefing Document on Unidentified Flying Objects presents the best available evidence for the existence of UFOs. Although just a brief sample of the scientific and military evidence available worldwide is given, it represents some of the most _carefully _documented incidents.
While several governments of the world have dealt with this problem, as you can see in the enclosed report we think that these governments should make available now all the UFO evidence they have collected, for a thorough and open inquiry by the scientific community.
The political constraints that imposed the rule of secrecy during the Cold War are no longer justified and the solution to the UFO mystery may represent both a scientific and social breakthrough.
We, the undersigned, endorse the information contained in this Briefing Document as the best available evidence from open sources.
CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies): President [signature] Dr. Mark Rodeghier
FUFOR (Fund for UFO Research): Chairman [signature] Mr. Richard H. Hall
MUFON (Mutual UFO Network): International Director [signature] and President Mr. Walter H. Andrus
Without the enthusiastic assistance of many people, the creation of this Briefing Document would have been far more difficult, if not impossible. While there are too many for us to thank individually, some deserve special recognition:
Laurance S. Rockefeller, for his vision and support, financial and otherwise, and George Lamb, for his day-to-day interest and for serving so effectively as liaison for Mr. Rockefeller.
Marie "Bootsie" Galbraith, for the original idea and for hundreds of hours of turning it into reality. Sandra Wright, for making her BSW Foundation available as the umbrella under which all the work could be done. Tina Nighman, for applying her talents and good humor to a wide range of administrative assistance.
The leadership of the UFO Research Coalition: the Center for UFO Studies, the Fund for UFO Research and the Mutual UFO Network, for their cooperative efforts and total support.
Major General Wilfred De Brouwer, Deputy Chief of the Royal Belgian Air Force; Dr. Claude Poher, founder of the Groupe d'Etudes des Phenomenes Aerospatiaux Non-identifie's (GEPAN), Jean-Jacques Velasco, Director of the Service d'Expertise des Phenomenes de Rentrees Atmospheriques (SEPRA); the Societe Belge d'Etude des Phenomenes Spatiaux (SOBEPS), and internationally recognized UFO authorities Stanton T. Friedman and Timothy Good, for generously giving their time and help.
In a democracy, the decision where to draw the line between a citizen's right to know and the government's right to secrecy for national security reasons must be made by appropriate members of the society. This issue has become the focus of much attention today and is especially relevant to an ongoing discussion, both inside and outside Congress, regarding UFO phenomena.
For obvious reasons, military services and the intelligence agencies must maintain a certain amount of secrecy. However, in recent decades, and especially since the end of the Cold War, many observers believe that the use of government secrecy has become excessive.
The power of government employees to restrict access to reports which they write by classifying them "confidential," "secret" or even "top secret" is often absolute. Once these reports are classified, they can only be declassified by the originator or by a special procedure that moves along at a glacial pace. Nor does the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) help very much. It does not apply to most classified material. Meanwhile, our criminal statutes protect against the unauthorized revelation of classified materials.
Secrecy, like power, lends itself to abuse. Behind the shield of secrecy, it is possible for an agency or service to avoid scrutiny and essentially to operate outside of the law. Accountability to the taxpayers and to the Congress can be conveniently avoided.
The vast majority of people employed by the U.S. government do not have access to classified information. Even those with secret and top secret clearances will not have access to all highly classified information. Furthermore, it is doubtful whether any member of Congress can have access to all such information. Given the size of the government bureaucracy and high degree of compartmentalization that exists within it, it is conceivable that even the President himself is not fully briefed on matters classified as "above top secret." Such information, allowing access only on the strictest "need-to-know" basis, is not necessarily given to senior elected officials who come and go and can therefore be regarded as temporary, political and unreliable.
Such is the case for top secret UFO information. In 1980, for example, researchers requesting information through the FOIA learned of the existence of 156 top secret UFO-related documents held by the National Security Agency (NSA). This lead was not found through the NSA itself, but through internal references in UFO-related documents held by other government agencies. When the researchers filed a FOIA request for the 156 NSA UFO documents, they were denied access to all of them. They appealed, but Judge Gerhard Gesell of the First Federal Court, District of Columbia, after reviewing the 21-page written argument submitted by the NSA, denied their appeal. The 21-page summary was later released, but even in this summary most of the information was blacked out.
(1) Judge Gesell Ruling re National Security Agency, November 14, 1980.
Such action seems inconsistent with a government that officially downplays the existence of true UFOs, and officially states that there is no threat to national security.
In the case of UFO phenomena, the question must be asked: what would give an un-elected government official the right to keep this information to himself, thereby depriving the rest of the world of possible knowledge of almost inconceivable magnitude and consequence? Such elitism by the officials of any government, much less a government based on the principles of democracy and individual rights, is a gross injustice not only to its ovn people, but to all people.
At issue, in this case, is access to knowledge perhaps so profound that it affects not only our very perspective on man's place in the universe, but also perhaps his continued presence on this planet. If the UFO phenomenon is real, we have clear evidence that an unknown technology is at work, whose potential could be enormous for the good of mankind - a potential source, for example, for useful energy benign to the environment.
To acknowledge the enormous gap between our present understanding of science and what is being evidenced, would provide the urgently needed challenge to the scientific establishment to examine where some of its basic assumptions might be faulty and to move berond them.
Is it possible that a few privileged individuals have access to this information while denying it to the electorate for "national security" reasons, so that it can be privately studied? In a democracy, should not this decision be made by our _elected officials and be based upon an informed discussion?
"UFO research is leading us kicking and screaming into the science of the twenty-first century.
"I have begun to feel that there is a tendency in 20th Century science to forget that there will be a 21st Century science, and indeed a 30th Century science from which vantage points our knowledge of the universe may appear quite different than it does to us. We suffer, perhaps, from temporal provincialism, a form of arrogance that has always irritated posterity." (From a letter by Dr. J. Allen Hynek to Science magazine, August 1. 1966.)
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Northwestern University astronomer; scientific consultant on UFOs to the U.S. Air Force from 1948 until 1969. Founder of the private Center for UFO Studies in 1973.
As long as men and women have talked about strange sights in the skies, two primary questions have been asked about what has come to be called Unidentified Flying Objects:
In this century, it started with the "foo fighters" of World War II: glowing balls that flew in formation or "played tag" with military airplanes over Europe and the Pacific. Suspected of being prototype enemy weapons, they never displayed hostility and when the war was over, they were all-but-forgotten.
In 1946, the Scandinavian countries reported many hundreds of "ghost rockets" which flew low and silently, and often slowly. Efforts to blame them on nearby Soviet tests of captured German missiles failed when it was learned that no such tests had taken place.
The first major American wave of sightings of "flying discs" began in the early summer of 1947. Within two weeks, at least 1,000 sightings were recorded of fast silvery discs seen in the daytime. The first military studies concluded they were real and of unknown nature and origin 1[Memo from Lt. Gen. Nathan Twining, Commanding General of the Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, to Gen. Spaatz, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, September 23, 1947].
From then on, UFOs seemed to fly at will over all parts of the world: fast and exotic, untouchable and and unproven. By the 1990s, there had been over 100,000 reported sightings, many by airline pilots and military pilots and other qualified witnesses.
Despite the steady accumulation of a vast quantity of information about the appearance and behavior of UFOs, little light has been shed on the two questions posed at the beginning. The armed services and universities, as well as private groups and individuals, have devoted a great amount of time to investigating UFOs, yet there is no consensus about their nature, origins or purpose.
Still, if a close look is taken at the best available evidence, it is possible to deal with what is known about UFOs, and what may reasonably be assumed. The point we will make is that the evidence to support the conclusion that UFOs are unknown aircraft/spacecraft seems to be overwhelming.
Most of what is "known" about UFOs comes from individuals' descriptions of what they say they saw. If the individuals are reliable and knowledgeable about the sky, the information stands a good chance of being useful. This is the source of the case's "credibility," one of the two primary criteria recognized by the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek, long a consultant on UFOs to the U.S. Air Force, and later the founder of the private Center for UFO Studies.
Dr. Hynek's other criterion is "strangeness," meaning the extent to which a reported observation differs from normal airplanes, satellites, meteors, etc. A large aluminum-looking sphere which maneuvers violently and changes speed abruptly, rates higher for "strangeness" than a somewhat peculiar light seen in the night sky.
It is the reports which rate highest in both "credibility" and "strangeness" that form the heart of the UFO mystery. Are they indeed convincing observations of unknown aircraft/spacecraft, or are they merely strangely shaped clouds or balloons seen under unusual lighting conditions, or some other natural or manmade phenomena?
Radar has played a major role in UFO sightings, repeatedly confirming the presence of something unidentified which responds to radar much as an airplane does. Clouds and other weather phenomena show up on radar, but any experienced operator can tell the difference between weather and something solid.
On popular explanation for radar/visual reports is temperature inversion. This was first brought to public attention following two nights of UFO sightings over Washington D.C., in 1952. Inversions, the cause of mirages, probably never caused these or any other UFO reports. According to a 1969 study by the Air Force Environmental Technical Applications Center, the conditions needed to produce the UFO-like effects attributed to inversions cannot exist in the Earth's atmosphere 2[Menkello, F.V., "Quantitative Aspects of Mirages," USAF Environmental Technical Applications Center, 1969].
The most thoroughly investigated recent radar/visual UFO sightings occurred in Belgium and Russia. Military jet interceptors were launched following observations from the ground. Ground-based and airborne radars then confirmed what was being seen visually, including high speeds and violent maneuvers far beyond the capability of the best modern warplanes. In both countries, high government officials admitted they were baffled.
While the human eye can be fooled, and radar can be fooled, it is considered extremely unlikely that both can be fooled, in exactly the same way, at exactly the same time. Thus radar/visual reports rate among the most convincing of all types of UFO sightings.
UFOs have been seen high in the sky, near to the ground, on the ground, and even rising from water. If some UFOs have landed, it is reasonable to suspect that some of them may have left traces behind, and indeed that is the case. Imprints, residues, charred and broken tree branches and rocks are among the bits of evidence claimed for UFO landings. Furthermore, under microscopic examination, some residues exhibit strange and unusual characteristics.
Perhaps the most well known example of a physical trace case in the United States occurred in 1964 near Socorro, New Mexico, where a policeman reported seeing an egg-shaped craft sitting on slender legs in an open field. When it had flown away, he and a second policeman inspected the area where it had been parked and found depressions in the dirt, as well as still smoldering, blackened shrubs. The sighting was investigated within two hours by men from U.S. Army Intelligence and the FBI, followed a day later by the chief civilian scientific consultant to Project Blue Book (the official Air Force investigation of UFO sightings). All agreed that the primary witness was highly reliable. Later, the final director of Blue Book called this case the most puzzling of the approximately 12,500 in his files.
The best documented example of a physical trace case in Europe occurred in Trans-en-Provence, France, where a farmer reported seeing a saucer-shaped craft land on his property and then fly away after a short while. Physical traces left on the ground were collected by the police within 2 hours and later analyzed in several French government laboratories. Microscopic analyses revealed anomalous biochemical and electromagnetic effects on the soil and vegetation. The diector of the Service d'Expertise des Phenomenes de Rentrees Atmospheriques (SEPRA, formerly called GEPAN) at the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) describes this case as the most puzzling UFO case in the French government files 3[GEPAN, Note Technique No. 16 Enquete 81/01, _Analyse d'une Trace, Toulouse, March 1, 1983. (English translation published in the MUFON UFO Journal, March 1984].
The involvement of the American government in the UFO mystery has long offered its own set of questions. Known investigations have produced ambiguous results, and explanations offered for specific cases have frequently been at odds with scientific reasoning. Sometimes, little-publicized official statements have supported the position that UFOs are real and unexplained.
(4) Steiger Brad, ed. _Project Blue Book, Ballantine Books, 196.
Sometimes statements not intended for the public have been brought to the surface by UFO researchers:
July 30, 1947: "This Flying saucer" situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomena. Something is really flying around 4[Air Force Base Intelligence Report, "Flying Discs," AFBIR-CO, July 30, 1947].
Sept. 23, 1947: "The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious." 5[Twining, ibid].
Oct. 28, 1947. "It is the considered opinion of some elements that the object [sic may in fact represent an interplanetary craft of some kind." 6[Draft Intelligence Collections Memorandum issued by Brig. Gen. George Shulgen, Chief of the Air Intelligence Requirements Division of the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, October 28, 1947].
Dec. 10, 1948: "It must be accepted that some type of flying objects have been observed, although their identification and origin are not discernible." 7[U.S. Air Intelligence Report 100-203-79, "Analysis of Flying Objects in the U.S.," December 10, 1948].
In 1948, the U.S. Air Force opened a publicly-known UFO investigation called Project Sign. Later, it became Project Grudge and finally Project Blue Book. In 1955, the U.S. Air Force released a study of 3,200 UFO reports it had received between 1947 and 1952. The private Battelle Memorial Institute used the Air Force data to arrive at its own conclusions: of the cases for which there was some conclusion, almost 50% were either unexplained, or doubtfully explained. Moreover, it was determined that the higher the qualifications of the witnesses, the harder it was to explain the reports in terms of common phenomena 8[Air Force Project Blue Book, "Special Report No. 14 (Analysis of Reports of Unidentified Aerial Objects)," May 5, 1955].
In 1967, as Project Blue Book was coming under increasing attack from the press and the public, the Air Force contracted with the University of Colorado to make a final study of UFOs. In contrast to the totally negative statements of the study director, Dr. Edward U. Condon, the body of the f1nal report showed that about 30% of the cases studied were left without explanation. Comments on individual cases by University of Colorado scientists included:
"This is the most puzzling case in the radar/visual files. The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation.
"All factors investigated - geometric, psychological and physical - appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disc-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses." 9[Gillmor, Daniel S., ed., _Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, New York Times Books, 1969].
Following the recommendation of the University of Colorado, Project Blue Book was ended in late 1969, after almost 22 years of Air Force official investigations. It left behind approximately 12,500 case files, of which 585 were officially declared "Unknown." This means that the project staff felt it had sufficient information about a case, but were unable to supply a full explanation of it.
Cases lacking sufficient information for meaningful analysis were kept separate. Furthermore, an official memo was released years later, under the Freedom of Information Act, that made it clear that "reports of unidentified flying objects _which could affect national security... are not part of the Blue Book system." [emphasis added]. Such reports "would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose." 10[Bolender, Brig. Gen. C.H., USAF, Memo re Project Blue Book, October 20, 1969].
In summary, it is apparent that the evidence - visual, radar and physical - strongly suggests that more than mistaken observations of conventional phenomena are involved in many UFO sightings. Witness testimony, backed up by official U.S. government documents, point toward the presence in the Earths atmosphere of apparently manufactured craft that cannot be explained as mistaken observations of acknowledged aircraft, spacecraft, atmospheric or astronomical phenomena.
If UFOs are not anything known, then they must be unknown. What says "unknown" more powerfully than extraterrestrial?" In the absence of any specific knowledge of even a single extraterrestrial civilization, there are no constraints on theorizing about the nature, technology and behavior of one or more hypothesized alien cultures. But are UFOs extraterrestrial? Lacking proof, we must deal very carefully with any answers. It remains a possibility that some or all of the otherwise unexplained UFO reports will some day be explained in terms of as-yet-unknown natural phenomena, or secret highly advanced man-made aircraft and/or spacecraft.
Nevertheless, there are impressive reasons for speculating about the extraterrestrial origin for some UFOs, namely their shapes and their performance.
Most UFOs observed in daylight, when shapes and details can be seen, have been described as having simple geometric shapes: discs, spheres, cylinders and more recently, triangles.
Disc-shaped airplanes have been flown, but none is known to have exceeded 150 mph, nor to have other capabilities displayed by UFOs. Difficulties in stability and control have so far prevented any disc-shaped aircraft from getting beyond the stage of low-performance prototypes.
Spherical aircraft have so far been limited to gas-filled balloons, whose performance is at the bottom of the speed and maneuverability scales. Balloons can fly only as the wind blows and can be overtaken quickly by airplanes.
Cylindrical aircraft are unknown, as the lack of wings poses huge problems when it comes to such functions as taking off and flying level. Rockets and missiles are cylindrical and certainly are able to fly, but only as the result of great power in relation to their size. They cn only fly upwards up at launch, and on a ballistic curve on their way to a target.
Triangle is the shape of delta-winged airplanes, though the flight characteristics of triangular UFOs removes them from this category.
It is entirely possible that some radical military aircraft having one or more of these shapes are flying from super-secret test facilities. But this would have to be a recent development unable to explain sightings of such craft during most of the past 50 years.
Even more striking than the shapes of UFOs is their performance: speed, acceleration, maneuverability, silence.
Speed. UFOs have been tracked on military radar travelling silently at several thousand miles per hour well within the Earth's atmosphere. An airplane attempting this would create an inescapable sonic boom before melting from friction with the air.
Extreme Acceleration. Airplanes do not visibly accelerate in the air, though they show generally impressive acceleration during take-off. Drag-racing cars and motorcycles accelerate in a manner obvious to even the least experienced observer. In the case of UFOs, airline and military pilots have reported that they fly at the same speed as an airplane, and then display acceleration common only to anti-missile missiles. Veteran pilots describe their observations with words like "astounding" and "unbelievable."
Extreme Maneuverability. While airplanes can perform abrupt maneuvers, these are generally seen only in air shows. Even then, such flying is more often described by the outside observer as "graceful" rather than "violent," though the pilot may use the latter term. Impossibilities for airplanes (but not, apparently, for UFOs) include right-angle turns at high speed, and zig-zag flight.
Silent Hovering. While helicopters and VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) airplanes can hover, they produce noises whose quality and volume positively identify them. UFOs, on the other hand, appear able to hover with little or no motion for long periods without any sound. This remains well beyond the state of known science, let alone technology.
The U.S. Government, and many other governments, claim that although not all UFO reports can be explained, there is no evidence that Earth has been visited by aliens. Most scientists and leading journalists agree with this position. However, these same scientists believe that there must be many advanced civilizations on planets orbiting the billions of stars they estimate to exist in the universe. The gap between these two positions is generally explained by the assumed inability of even the most advanced society to travel the enormous distances separating the Earth from even the nearest stars.
Yet there are thousands of sightings of novel, high-performance craft in our skies, reported by highly skilled and experienced observers. There are also hundreds of other reports of craft seen on the ground, and sometimes of humanoid beings in their vicinity.
The great conflict between official positions and trustworthy observations constitutes the mystery of Unidentified Flying Objects. A possible solution to this mystery is the suggestion that the official position is based on an elaborate cover-up. If it is a cover-up, what then is being protected, and by whom?
The answers to these questions generally focus on the issue of national security as well as fear of the public reaction to an official disclosure of UFO reality and its extraterrestrial origin. The question of extraterrestrial intention and the frightening aspects of the alleged abduction phenomena could be extremely disturbing. However, many researchers believe that it is the science and technology behind the national security veil which lies at the heart of the secrecy, and that:
There are two major elements to the UFO mystery: the UFOs themselves and the intensive efforts by the governments of the world to withhold information about them. Neither the nature nor the purpose of the governments' actions are clearly understood. But this policy dates back to the latter part of World War II when UFO-like "foo fighters" were being reported by combat pilots.
A report about "foo-fighters" is said to have been prepared in 1945 by the United States Eighth Air Force, but no copy has been seen by the public, despite the passing of a half century. A year later, when "ghost rockets" were seen over Scandinavia, the Swedish Government invoked secrecy and only began to release information 40 years later. When "flying saucers" appeared over the USA in the summer of 1947, only the most general information was made public, while reports and analyses were kept under wraps, as was the fact that the government was taking the saucers seriously. (13, 14)
The U.S. Air Force ongoing UFO investigation (Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book), collected more than 12,000 reports, most of which were "explained." It was official policy to refuse to comment on "unexplained" cases. By keeping case details secret, the public was kept from learning that many of the allegedly-explained cases had not been analyzed by generally accepted scientific standards. (15)
In 1976, with the amendment of the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act by the U.S. Congress, a mechanism was created for unearthing government UFO information whose very existence had long been denied. Formal requests, followed by appeals and sometimes legal action, produced thousands of pages of previously-classified documents from the Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other intelligence-oriented agencies.
It appears, however, that the released information was the least sensitive material in the official files. Almost all the released documents had been classified merely "Confidential" or "Secret," with just a few having been "Top Secret". Many pages of these documents showed the black marks of censorship. In fact, many pages of the voluminous case files of the official U.S. Air Force investigation contained black marks hiding information. (16)
The rapid flow of UFO documents in the 1970s dropped to a slow trickle in the 1980s, but will probably pick up again with the Administration's recent declassification measures. However, since every government agency has at its disposal a long list of reasons for
When studied as a group, these case histories exhibit clear patterns which strongly suggest that they belong to a distinct new class of phenomena, rather than being a formless collection of disparate observational errors... It is this large quantity of evidence of the existence of something completely baffling which motivates many of us to urge the governments of the world to release all they know about UFOs so that the people of the world, and especially scientists, can begin to come to grips with a mystery that has far too long been subjected to secrecy and ridicule.
"I can assure you that flying saucers, given that they exist, are not constructed by any power on earth," Harry S. Truman is quoted as saying on April 4, 1950, at a White House press conference.