Flying Saucers: How The UFO Myth Took It’s Shape

June 24, 1947 is the day that accredited as the first modern UFO sighting and the origin of America’s obsession with flying saucers.

An amatuer pilot was on his way to an air show in Oregon when he saw a bright blue flash of light in the sky near Mount Rainier in Washington State. He then saw nine more flashes of light, coming from what he described as an unidentified flying object. Thus the term “UFO” was coined.

UFO sightings have only increased since that fateful day, and in 1948, the U.S. Air Force opened an investigation called Project Sign. The initial opinion is that the UFOs were most likely some sort of very sophisticated Soviet aircraft.

  • After the first year of the Project, it was succeeded by Project Grudge, which in 1952 was replaced by the longest-lived of the official inquiries into UFOs, Project Blue Book. From 1952 to 1969, Project Blue Book compiled reports of more than 12,000 sightings, also called events, which were classified as either “Identified” or “Unidentified.”

It was obvious that America’s obsession with UFOs was underway. The number of sightings was growing to a record high. This hike in sightings led to the Central Intelligence Agency prompting the U.S. Government to establish a panel of expert scientists to investigate the phenomena.

The panel was headed by H.P. Robertson, a physicist from the California Institute of Technology. The panel met for three days in 1953 and interviewed everyone from military officers to the head of Project Blue Book.

The panel concluded:

  • 90% of these sightings could easily be attributed to astronomical and meteorological phenomena such as bright planets, stars or meteors.  
  • There was no obvious or immediate threat to national security.
  • There was no evidence to support the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

There was a second committee set up in 1966 at the request of the Air Force. Similar to  the first panel, they concluded that there was no evidence to warrant any further investigation.

Aside from Project Blue Book, there were investigations into sightings in Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Australia and Greece. Sightings in the Soviet Union and China were attributed to military tests that were unreported to  the public.

Area 51

Area 51 has long been thought of as the location where the U.S. Government stores and hides extraterrestrial evidence  and UFOs, and has been the subject of alien conspiracies for decades.

In 2013, the CIA declassified documents that officially acknowledged for the first time that Area 51 was a secret military site. Rather than hosting flying saucers, Area 51 was used to test the U-2 and OXCART aerial surveillance programs. The need for secrecy was to keep information out of Soviet hands.

Area 51 is still very much in use today. There are some theories about what could be hiding behind the chain-link fences: advanced weapons, new forms of radio communication, energy weapons, and stealth technology are just a few of the guesses.

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