The UFO FLAP of 1957
We often hear of the infamous UFO flap of 1952 when all across the United States a plethora of unidentified aerial sightings occurred over civilian and military facilities creating public hysteria. F-94C all weather interceptors chased UFO’s over White House airspace and were detected on the radars of three major airports in the Washington DC area over several nights. Despite Newspaper Headlines concerning the Korean War the major story carried in the national tabloids for days it was UFO's who eclipsed all other news items.
As a result of all the activity and reported sightings the largest post World War II press conference was held by US Army General Samford to explain that some of the radar targets could have been caused by thermal inversions known as “Weather Targets” yet Al Chop, USAF PR Spokesman, Major Dewey Forney USAF flight engineer, and Harry Barnes, Chief Traffic Controller did not agree with that explanation as they watched UFO’s on the radar screens and the US Air Force interceptors that flew in to identify them. More than 300 unidentified sightings were reported over the continental US alone during a short number of days in 1952.
Yet, in the midst of the ever increasing involvement of the US Air Force and the FBI in investigating UFO’s the Robertson Panel convened. This collection of rocket experts, generals, weapons developers, and other scientists was also attended by the Project Blue Book Director Captain Edward Ruppelt, Major Dewey Forney, and Astronomical Advisor Doctor J. Allen Hynek. With the Project Bluebook staff presenting the most impressive sighting reports and films taken by one Naval photographer Delbert Newhouse known as the Tremonton Film and the Beaver Falls, Montana film taken by baseball coach Nick Marianas the evidence was ignored!
With Project Blue Book gaining much integrity with the armed forces and conducting field reports from coast to coast one prominent general was ready to allocate more funding to the project and assign a major aerial reconnaissance group to UFO investigations. However, the Robertson Panel would conclude that UFO’s though still a mystery, presented no threat to National Security and therefore recommended that funding be limited and Project Blue Book be converted into a public relations agency simply for the purpose of convincing the citizenry that an effort was being made to address the subject, using denial as one of their major tools. The more crucial reports of serious concern would be sent up the ladder to Wright Patterson Field where the ATIC was located for more serious study. As a result, the original staff who had worked so hard improve the skills and quality of the reporting would now disband and seek reassignment as they were now discouraged by the bureaucratic coup that had just taken place! Ironically Doctor J. Allen Hynek remained on as the main scientific debunker.
Yet, with all efforts being used by the US Air Force to dismiss public interest in the subject and to dissuade the public from being alarmed over UFO sightings the phenomenon simply refused to go away. In 1957, there was a wider scale of massive UFO reports that spanned the entire globe. Sightings emerged from Kyoto, Japan to New Zealand, from Peru to Argentina, from Portugal to multiple sightings in the UK, but the lion’s share of UFO reports came from the US with a massive wave in California, Texas, and New York State. An alarming number of UFO’s were tracked by radar, had ground level eye witness reports, or scrambled Jet fighters to investigate. A log of US Air Force and other military facilities reads as follows: