This morning I had a vision of word that said:

"President sorting papers:  Forrestal"

Of course I had to research that quickly.



U.S. Secretary of the Navy

U.S. Secretary of Defense

James Vincent Forrestal (February 15, 1892 – May 22, 1949) was the last Cabinet-level United States Secretary of the Navyand the first United States Secretary of Defense.

Forrestal was a supporter of naval battle groups centered on aircraft carriers. In 1954, the world's first supercarrier was namedUSS Forrestal in his honor, as is the James V. Forrestal Building, which houses the headquarters of the United States Department of Energy. He is also the namesake of the Forrestal Lecture Series at the United States Naval Academy, which brings prominent military and civilian leaders to speak to the Brigade of Midshipmen, and of the James Forrestal Campus ofPrinceton University in Plainsboro Township, New Jersey.

In office
September 17, 1947 – March 28, 1949
President Harry S. Truman
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Louis A. Johnson
47th United States Secretary of the Navy
In office
May 19, 1944 – September 17, 1947
Preceded by Frank Knox
Succeeded by John L. Sullivan
Personal details
Born James Vincent Forrestal
February 15, 1892
Matteawan, New York, U.S.
Died May 22, 1949 (aged 57)
Montgomery County, Maryland, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Josephine Stovall Ogden (formerly Stovall) (1926)
Children Michael Forrestal
Peter Forrestal
Alma mater Dartmouth College

Forrestal was born in Matteawan, New York, (now part of Beacon, New York), the youngest son of James Forrestal, an Irishimmigrant who dabbled in politics. His mother, the former Mary Anne Toohey (herself the daughter of another Irish immigrant) raised him as a devout Roman Catholic..He was an amateur boxer. After graduating from high school at the age of 16, in 1908, he spent the next three years working for a trio of newspapers: the Matteawan Evening Journal, the Mount Vernon Argusand the Poughkeepsie News Press.

Forrestal entered Dartmouth College in 1911, but transferred to Princeton University sophomore year. He served as an editor forThe Daily Princetonian. The senior class voted him "Most Likely to Succeed", but he left just prior to completing work on a degree. Forrestal married the former Josephine Stovall (née Ogden), a Vogue writer, in 1926. She eventually developed alcohol and mental problems..

Forrestal went to work as a bond salesman for William A. Read and Company (later renamed Dillon, Read & Co.) in 1916. When the USA entered World War I, he enlisted in the Navy and ultimately became a Naval Aviator, training with the Royal Flying Corps in Canada. During the final year of the war, Forrestal spent much of his time in Washington, D.C., at the office of Naval Operations, while completing his flight training. He eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant. After the war, Forrestal returned to working in finance and made his fortune on Wall Street. He became a partner (1923), vice-president (1926), and president of the company (1937). He also acted as a publicist for the Democratic Party committee in Dutchess County, New York helping politicians from the area win elections at both the state and national level. One of those individuals aided by his work was a neighbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

By some accounts, Forrestal was a compulsive workaholic, skilled administrator, pugnacious, introspective, shy, philosophic, solitary, and emotionally insecure.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Forrestal a special administrative assistant on June 22, 1940. Six weeks later, he nominated him for the newly established position, Undersecretary of the Navy. In his nearly four years as undersecretary, Forrestal proved highly effective at mobilizing domestic industrial production for the war effort. Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, wanted to control logistics and procurement, but Forrestal prevailed.

In September 1942, to get a grasp on the reports for material his office was receiving, he made a tour of naval operations in the Southwest Pacific and a stop at Pearl Harbor. Returning to Washington, D.C., he made his report to President Roosevelt, Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, and the cabinet. In response to Forrestal's elevated request that material be sent immediately to the Southwest Pacific area, Stimson (who was more concerned with supplying Operation Torch in North Africa), told Forrestal, "Jim, you've got a bad case of localitis." Forrestal shot back in a heated manner, "Mr. Secretary, if the Marines on Guadalcanal were wiped out, the reaction of the country will give you a bad case of localitis in the seat of your pants".

He became Secretary of the Navy on May 19, 1944, after his immediate superior Secretary Frank Knox died from a heart attack. Forrestal led the Navy through the closing year of the war and the painful early years of demobilization that followed. As Secretary, Forrestal introduced a policy of racial integration in the Navy.

Forrestal traveled to combat zones to see naval forces in action. He was in the South Pacific in 1942, present at the Battle of Kwajalein in 1944, and (as Secretary) witnessed the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. After five days of pitched battle, a detachment of Marines was sent to hoist the American flag on the 545-foot summit of Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. This was the first time in the war that the U.S. flag had flown on Japanese soil. Forrestal, who had just landed on the beach, claimed the historic flag as a souvenir. A second, larger flag was run up in its place, and this second flag-raising was the moment captured by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal in his famous photograph.

Forrestal, along with Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Under Secretary of State Joseph Grew, in the early months of 1945, strongly advocated a softer policy toward Japan that would permit a negotiated armistice, a 'face-saving' surrender. Forrestal's primary concern was not the resurgence of a militarized Japan, but rather "the menace of Russian Communism and its attraction for decimated, destabilized societies in Europe and Asia," and, therefore, keeping the Soviet Union out of the war with Japan. So strongly did he feel about this matter that he cultivated negotiation efforts that some regarded as approaching insubordination.

His counsel on ending the war was finally followed, but not until the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The day after the Nagasaki attack, the Japanese sent out a radio transmission saying that it was ready to accept the terms of the allies' Potsdam Declaration, “with the understanding that said declaration does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler.” That position still fell short of the U.S. "unconditional surrender" demand, retaining the sticking point that had held up the war's conclusion for months. Strong voices within the administration, including Secretary of State James Byrnes, counseled fighting on. At that point, "Forrestal came up with a shrewd and simple solution: Accept the offer and declare that it accomplishes what the Potsdam Declaration demanded. Say that the Emperor and the Japanese government will rule subject to the orders of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. This would imply recognition of the Emperor while tending to neutralize American public passions against the Emperor. Truman liked this. It would be close enough to 'unconditional.'"

After the war, Forrestal urged Truman to take a hard line with the Soviets over Poland. He also strongly influenced the new Wisconsin Senator, Joseph McCarthy, concerning infiltration of the government by Communists. Upon McCarthy's arrival in Washington in December 1946, Forrestal invited him to lunch. In McCarthy's words, "Before meeting Jim Forrestal I thought we were losing to international Communism because of incompetence and stupidity on the part of our planners. I mentioned that to Forrestal. I shall forever remember his answer. He said, 'McCarthy, consistency has never been a mark of stupidity. If they were merely stupid, they would occasionally make a mistake in our favor.' This phrase struck me so forcefully that I have often used it since."

Secretary of Defense

In 1947, President Harry S. Truman appointed him the first United States Secretary of Defense. Forrestal continued to advocate for complete racial integration of theservices, a policy eventually implemented in 1949.

During private cabinet meetings with President Truman in 1946 and 1947, Forrestal had argued against partition of Palestine on the grounds it would infuriate Arab countrieswho supplied oil needed for the U.S. economy and national defense. Instead, Forrestal favored a federalization plan for Palestine. Outside the White House, response to Truman's continued silence on the issue was immediate. President Truman received threats to cut off campaign contributions from wealthy donors, as well as hate mail, including a letter accusing him of "preferring fascist and Arab elements to the democracy-loving Jewish people of Palestine." Appalled by the intensity and implied threats over the partition question, Forrestal appealed to Truman in two separate cabinet meetings not to base his decision on partition, whatever the outcome, on the basis of political pressure. In his only known public comment on the issue, Forrestal stated to J. Howard McGrath, Senator from Rhode Island:

" group in this country should be permitted to influence our policy to the point it could endanger our national security."

Forrestal's statement soon earned him the active enmity of some congressmen and supporters of Israel. Forrestal was also an early target of the muckraking columnist and broadcaster Drew Pearson, an opponent of foreign policies hostile to the Soviet Union, who began to regularly call for Forrestal's removal after President Truman named him Secretary of Defense. Pearson told his own protege, Jack Anderson, that he believed Forrestal was "the most dangerous man in America" and claimed that if he was not removed from office, he would "cause another world war."

Upon taking office as Secretary of Defense, Forrestal was surprised to learn that the administration did not budget for defense needs based on military threats posed by enemies of the United States and its interests. According to historian Walter LaFeber, Truman was known to approach defense budgetary requests in the abstract, without regard to defense response requirements in the event of conflicts with potential enemies. The president would begin by subtracting from total receipts the amount needed for domestic needs and recurrent operating costs, with any surplus going to the defense budget for that year. The Truman administration's willingness to slash conventional readiness needs for the Navy and Marine Corps soon caused fierce controversies within the upper ranks of their respective branches.

During the Reagan years, Paul Nitze reflected upon the qualities which made a Secretary of Defense great: the ability to work with Congress, the ability at "big-time management," and an ability at war planning. Nitze felt that Forrestal was the only one who possessed all three qualities together.


At the close of World War II, millions of dollars of serviceable equipment had been scrapped or abandoned rather than having funds appropriated for its storage costs. New military equipment en route to operations in the Pacific theater was scrapped or simply tossed overboard. Facing the wholesale demobilization of most of the US defense force structure, Forrestal resisted President Truman's efforts to substantially reduce defense appropriations, but was unable to prevent a steady reduction in defense spending, resulting in major cuts not only in defense equipment stockpiles, but also in military readiness.

By 1948, President Harry Truman had approved military budgets billions of dollars below what the services were requesting, putting Forrestal in the middle of a fierce tug-of-war between the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Forrestal was also becoming increasingly worried about the Soviet threat. His 18 months at Defense came at an exceptionally difficult time for the U.S. military establishment: Communist governments came to power in Czechoslovakia and China; the Soviets imposed a blockade on West Berlin prompting the U.S. Berlin Airlift to supply the city; the 1948 Arab–Israeli War followed the establishment of Israel; and negotiations were going on for the formation of NATO.

Dwight D. Eisenhower recorded he was in agreement with Forrestal's theories on the dangers of Soviet and International communist expansion. Eisenhower recalled that Forrestal had been "the one man who, in the very midst of the war, always counseled caution and alertness in dealing with the Soviets." Eisenhower remembered on several occasions, while he was Supreme Allied Commander, he had been visited by Forrestal, who carefully explained his thesis that the Communists would never cease trying to destroy all representative government. Eisenhower commented in his personal diary on 11 June 1949, "I never had cause to doubt the accuracy of his judgments on this point."

Forrestal also opposed the unification of the military services proposed by the Truman officials. Even so, he helped develop the National Security Act of 1947 that created theNational Military Establishment (the Department of Defense was not created as such until August 1949). With the former Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson retiring to private life, Forrestal was the next choice.



Roswell UFO incident - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In mid 1947, a United States Air Force surveillance balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, prompting claims alleging the crash was of an .,,,


Resignation as Secretary of Defense

(Read this next paragraph carefully as this statement is written to make you think things other than may or may not be true.)

Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey was expected to win the presidential elections of 1948. Forrestal met with Dewey privately and it was agreed, he would continue as Secretary of Defense under a Dewey administration. Unwittingly, Forrestal would trigger a series of events that would not only undermine his already precarious position with President Truman but would also contribute to the loss of his job, his failing health, and eventual demise. Weeks before the election, Pearson published an exposé of the meetings between Dewey and Forrestal. In 1949, angered over Forrestal's continued opposition to his defense economization policies, and concerned about reports in the press over his mental condition, Truman abruptly asked Forrestal to resign. By March 31, 1949, Forrestal was out of a job. He was replaced by Louis A. Johnson, an ardent supporter of Truman's defense retrenchment policy.


Psychiatric treatment  (Read the list of drugs and treatment)

In 1949, exhausted from overwork, Forrestal entered psychiatric treatment. The attending psychiatrist, Captain George N. Raines, was handpicked by the Navy Surgeon General. The regimen was as follows:

  1. 1st week: narcosis with sodium amytal.
  2. 2nd – 5th weeks: a regimen of insulin sub-shock combined with psycho-therapeutic interviews. According to Dr. Raines, the patient overreacted to the insulin much as he had the amytal and this would occasionally throw him into a confused state with a great deal of agitation and confusion.
  3. 4th week: insulin administered only in stimulating doses; 10 units of insulin four times a day, morning, noon, afternoon and evening.

According to Dr. Raines, "We considered electro-shock but thought it better to postpone it for another 90 days. In reactive depression if electro-shock is used early and the patient is returned to the same situation from which he came there is grave danger of suicide in the immediate period after they return... so strangely enough we left out electro-shock to avoid what actually happened anyhow".


Although Forrestal told associates he had decided to resign, he was shattered when Truman abruptly asked for his resignation. His letter of resignation was tendered on March 28, 1949. On the day of his resignation from office, he was reported to have gone into a strange daze and was flown on a Navy airplane to the estate of Under Secretary of State Robert A. Lovett in Hobe Sound, Florida, where Forrestal's wife, Josephine, was vacationing. Dr. William C. Menninger of the Menninger Clinic in Kansas was consulted and he diagnosed "severe depression" of the type "seen in operational fatigue during the war." The Menninger Clinic had successfully treated similar cases during World War II, but Forrestal's wife Josephine, his friend and associate Ferdinand Eberstadt, Dr. Menninger and Navy psychiatrist Captain Dr. George N. Raines decided to send the former Secretary of Defense to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda, Maryland, where it would be possible to deny his mental illness. He was checked into NNMC five days later. The decision to house him on the 16th floor instead of the first floor was justified in the same way. Forrestal's condition was officially announced as "nervous and physical exhaustion," his lead doctor, Captain Raines, diagnosing his condition as "depression" or "reactive depression."

As a person who prized anonymity and once stated that his hobby was "obscurity," Forrestal and his policies had been the constant target of vicious personal attacks from columnists, including Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell. Pearson's protégé, Jack Anderson, later asserted that Pearson "hectored Forrestal with innuendos and false accusations."

Forrestal seemed to be on the road to recovery, having regained 5.5 kg (12 pounds) since his entry into the hospital. However, in the early morning hours of May 22, his body, clad only in the bottom half of a pair of pajamas, was found on a third-floor roof below the 16th-floor kitchen across the hall from his room. Forrestal's alleged last written statement, touted in the contemporary press and later biographers as an implied suicide note, was part of a poem from Sophocles' tragedy Ajax:

Fair Salamis, the billows’ roar,
Wander around thee yet,
And sailors gaze upon thy shore
Firm in the Ocean set.
Thy son is in a foreign clime
Where Ida feeds her countless flocks,
Far from thy dear, remembered rocks,
Worn by the waste of time–
Comfortless, nameless, hopeless save
In the dark prospect of the yawning grave....
Woe to the mother in her close of day,
Woe to her desolate heart and temples gray,
When she shall hear
Her loved one’s story whispered in her ear!
“Woe, woe!’ will be the cry–
No quiet murmur like the tremulous wail
Of the lone bird, the querulous nightingale

The official Navy review board, which completed hearings on May 31, waited until October 11, 1949, to release only a brief summary of its findings. The announcement, as reported on page 15 of the October 12 New York Times, stated only that Forrestal had died from his fall from the window. It did not say what might have caused the fall, nor did it make any mention of a bathrobe sash cord that had first been reported as tied around his neck. According to the full report, which was not released by the Department of the Navy until April 2004, the official findings of the board were as follows:

After full and mature deliberation, the board finds as follows:

  1. That the body found on the ledge outside of room three eighty-four of building one of the National Naval Medical Center at one-fifty a.m. and pronounced dead at one fifty-five a.m., Sunday, May 22, 1949, was identified as that of the late James V. Forrestal, a patient on the Neuropsychiatric Service of the U. S. Naval Hospital, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.
  2. That the late James V. Forrestal died on or about May 22, 1949, at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, as a result of injuries, multiple, extreme, received incident to a fall from a high point in the tower, building one, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.
  3. That the behavior of the deceased during the period of his stay in the hospital preceding his death was indicative of a mental depression.
  4. That the treatment and precautions in the conduct of the case were in agreement with accepted psychiatric practice and commensurate with the evident status of the patient at all times.
  5. That the death was not caused in any manner by the intent, fault, negligence or inefficiency of any person or persons in the naval service or connected therewith.

James Forrestal is buried in Section 30 Lot 674 Grid X-39 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Assassination theories

Doubts have existed from the beginning about Forrestal's death, especially allegations of homicide. The early doubts are detailed in the book The Death of James Forrestal (1966) by Cornell Simpson, which received virtually no publicity. As Simpson notes (pp. 40–44), a major reason for doubt is the fact that the Navy kept the full transcript of its official hearing and final report secret. Additional doubt has been raised by the 2004 release of that complete report, informally referred to as the Willcutts Report, obtained by researcher David Martin through use of the Freedom of Information Act. The name refers to Admiral Morton D. Willcutts, the head of NNMC, who convened the review board.

There were unsubstantiated reports in the press of paranoia and of involuntary commitment to the hospital, as well as suspicions about the detailed circumstances of his death, which have fed a variety of conspiracy theories as well as legitimate questions. If it is Forrestal's handwriting in the poem, according to some intelligence sources, then he could not scribble the word "nightingale" in the poem because it was the code name of the Ukrainian Nazi elite unit Nachtigall Brigade which Forrestal had helped to smuggle to the United States to supplant Kim Philby's failed ABN (Anti Bolshevik Nationals), an MI6 Soviet émigré fascist group. There was also broken glass found on Forrestal's bed, a fact that had not been previously reported. Theories as to who might have murdered Forrestal range from Zionist or Soviet agents to U.S. government operatives sent to silence him for his knowledge of UFOs.

Forrestal's single known public statement regarding pressure from interest groups, and his cabinet position opposing the partition of Palestine has been significantly magnified by later critics into a portrayal of Forrestal as a dedicated anti-Zionist who led a concerted campaign to thwart the cause of the Jewish people in Palestine. These critics tend to characterize Forrestal as a mentally unhinged individual, a hysteric with deep anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish feelings. Forrestal himself maintained that he was being shadowed by "foreign men," which some critics and authors quickly interpreted to mean either Soviet NKVD agents or proponents of Zionism. Author Arnold Rogow supported the theory that Forrestal committed suicide over fantasies of being chased by Zionist agents, largely relying on information obtained in interviews conducted with some of Forrestal's fiercest critics inside and outside the Truman administration.

However, those who see Zionist designs behind Forrestal's unexplained death note Rogow's footnote to his work:

"While those beliefs reflect the fact that Forrestal was a very ill man in March 1949, it is entirely possible that he was 'shadowed' by Zionist agents in 1947 and 1948. A close associate of his at the time recalls that at the height of the Palestine controversy, his (the associate's) official limousine was followed to and from his office by a blue sedan containing two men. When the police were notified and the sedan apprehended, it was discovered that the two men were photographers employed by a Zionist organization. They explained to the police that they had hoped to obtain photographs of the limousine's occupant entering or leaving an Arab embassy in order to demonstrate that the official involved was in close contact with Arab representatives."

Columnists Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell led a press campaign—which many would today find libelous—against Forrestal to make him appear paranoid. But official evaluations of his psychiatric state never mentioned paranoia. One of Pearson's most spectacular claims was that at Hobe Sound, Florida, shortly before he was hospitalized, Forrestal was awakened by a siren in the middle of the night and ran out into the street exclaiming, "The Russians are attacking." No one who was there that night confirmed this claim. Captain George Raines, the Navy doctor in charge of Forrestal's treatment, called it an outright fabrication.

The first US ambassador to Israel James G. McDonald writing in 1951 describes the attacks on Forrestal as "unjustifiable", "persistent and venomous" and "among the ugliest example of the willingness of politicians and publicists to use the vilest means—in the name of patriotism—to destroy self-sacrificing and devoted public servants."

Publication of diaries

His diaries from 1944 to March 1949 were serialised in the New York Herald Tribune in 1951, and published as a 581-page book The Forrestal Diaries, edited by Walter Millisin October 1951. They were censored prior to publication.[41] Adam Matthew Publications Ltd publishes a micro-film of the complete and unexpurgated diaries from the originals preserved in the Seeley G Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University. An example of censorship is the removal of the following account of a conversation with Truman: "He referred to Hitler as an egomaniac. The result is we shall have a Slav Europe for a long time to come. I don't think it is so bad."

Cultural references

The James V. Forrestal Building in Washington, D.C., completed in 1969, is named for him.

In the 1994 television movie, Roswell, Forrestal is portrayed by Eugene Roche. He is depicted as sitting on a commission concerning the Roswell UFO incident and advocating the eventual release of information to the public. The film treats his death and classified diary as highly suspicious.

An opera concerning the conspiracy theories behind Forrestal's death, Nightingale: The Last Days of James Forrestal composed by Evan Hause with a libretto by Gary Heidt, premiered in New York City at the Present Company Theatorium on May 19, 2002.

In The Golden Age, a DC Comics Elseworlds "imaginary story", 4-issue prestige format mini-series by James Robinson (writer) and Paul Smith (artist), Forrestal's death is shown to have been a murder. Forrestal is pushed from the window of his Bethesda Naval Hospital room by the Golden Age Robotman.

In the PC game Area 51 one of the secret documents the player can collect talks about the Majestic 12 initiative being threatened with "receiving the same punishment as his last secretary, Forrestal", implying the murder of Forrestal was an alien conspiracy to cover his operation from the public.

In the Anime OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, a secret document is briefly viewable in the eighth episode that mentions the death of a Secretary Forrestal. It goes on to say that a "vacancy" was left due to his death until he was replaced by an unnamed general.

In the 2002 HBO TV movie Path to War, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (portrayed by Alec Baldwin) hauntingly recounts the story of James Forrestal's dismissal and suicide to speechwriter Richard Goodwin (portrayed by James Frain).

The story of James Forrestal is prominently featured in Chapter 4 of the Oliver Stone popular documentary series Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States which aired on Showtime in 2012–13.















Unidentified flying object

Photograph of an alleged UFO in New Jersey, taken on July 31, 1952

An unidentified flying object, or UFO, in its most general definition, is any apparent anomaly in the sky that is not identifiable as a known object or phenomenon. Culturally, UFOs are associated with claims of visitation by extraterrestrial life or government-relatedconspiracy theories, and have become popular subjects in fiction. While UFOs are often later identified, sometimes identification may not be possible owing to the usually low quality of evidence related to UFO sightings (generally anecdotal evidence and eyewitness accounts).

Stories of fantastical celestial apparitions have been told since antiquity, but the term "UFO" (or "UFOB") was officially created in 1953 by the United States Air Force (USAF) to serve as a catch-all for all such reports. In its initial definition, the USAF stated that a "UFOB" was "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." Accordingly, the term was initially restricted to that fraction of cases which remained unidentified after investigation, as the USAF was interested in potential national security reasons and/or "technical aspects" (see Air Force Regulation 200-2).

During the late 1940s and through the 1950s, UFOs were often referred to popularly as "flying saucers" or "flying discs". The term UFO became more widespread during the 1950s, at first in technical literature, but later in popular use. UFOs garnered considerable interest during the Cold War, an era associated with a heightened concern for national security. Various studies have concluded that the phenomenon does not represent a threat to national security nor does it contain anything worthy of scientific pursuit (e.g., 1951Flying Saucer Working Party, 1953 CIA Robertson Panel, USAF Project Blue Book, Condon Committee).



The Oxford English Dictionary defines a UFO as "An unidentified flying object; a 'flying saucer'." The first published book to use the word was authored by Donald E. Keyhoe.




The acronym "UFO" was coined by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who headed Project Blue Book, then the USAF's official investigation of UFOs. He wrote, "Obviously the term 'flying saucer' is misleading when applied to objects of every conceivable shape and performance. For this reason the military prefers the more general, if less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short." Other phrases that were used officially and that predate the UFO acronym include "flying flapjack", "flying disc", "unexplained flying discs", "unidentifiable object", and "flying saucer".

The phrase "flying saucer" had gained widespread attention after the summer of 1947. On June 24, a civilian pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine objects flying in formation near Mount Rainier. Arnold timed the sighting and estimated the speed of discs to be over 1,200 mph (1,931 km/h). At the time, he described the objects' shape as being somewhat disc-like or saucer-like, leading to newspaper accounts of "flying saucers" and "flying discs"

In popular usage the term UFO came to be used to refer to claims of alien spacecraft. and because of the public and media ridicule associated with the topic, some investigators prefer to use such terms as unidentified aerial phenomenon (or UAP) or anomalous phenomena, as in the title of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP).


Studies have established that the majority of UFO observations are misidentified conventional objects or natural phenomena—most commonly aircraft, balloons, noctilucent clouds, nacreous clouds, or astronomical objects such as meteors or bright planets with a small percentage even being hoaxes. Between 5% and 20% of reported sightings are not explained, and therefore can be classified as unidentified in the strictest sense. While proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) suggest that these unexplained reports are of alien spacecraft, the null hypothesis cannot be excluded that these reports are simply other more prosaic phenomena that cannot be identified due to lack of complete information or due to the necessary subjectivity of the reports.

While UFOs have been the subject of extensive investigation by various governments and although a few scientists have supported the extraterrestrial hypothesis, almost no scientific papers about UFOs have been published in peer-reviewed journals. There was, in the past, some debate in the scientific community about whether any scientific investigation into UFO sightings is warranted with the general conclusion being that the phenomenon was not worthy of serious investigation beyond a cultural artifact.

The void left by the lack of institutional scientific study has given rise to independent researchers and groups, including the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in the mid-20th century and, more recently, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) and the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). The term "Ufology" is used to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects.

UFOs have become a prevalent theme in modern culture, and the social phenomena have been the subject of academic research in sociology and psychology.

Early history




Unexplained aerial observations have been reported throughout history. Some were undoubtedly astronomical in nature: comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye, planetary conjunctions, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia and lenticular clouds. An example is Halley's Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 BC and possibly as early as 467 BC. Such sightings throughout history often were treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens. Some current-day UFO researchers have noticed similarities between some religious symbols in medieval paintings and UFO reports though the canonical and symbolic character of such images is documented by art historians placing more conventional religious interpretations on such images.


UFOs have been subject to investigations over the years that varied widely in scope and scientific rigor. Governments or independent academics in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Peru, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union are known to have investigated UFO reports at various times.

Among the best known government studies are the ghost rockets investigation by the Swedish military (1946–1947), Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the USAF from 1947 until 1969, the secret U.S. Army/Air Force Project Twinkle investigation into green fireballs (1948–1951), the secret USAF Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 by the Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Brazilian Air Force's 1977 Operação Prato (Operation Saucer). France has had an ongoing investigation (GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN) within its space agency Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) since 1977; the government of Uruguay has had a similar investigation since 1989.

Project Sign

Main article: Project Sign

Project Sign in 1948 produced a highly classified finding (see Estimate of the Situation) that the best UFO reports probably had an extraterrestrial explanation. A top secret Swedish military opinion given to the USAF in 1948 stated that some of their analysts believed that the 1946 ghost rockets and later flying saucers had extraterrestrial origins. (For document, see Ghost rockets.) In 1954 German rocket scientist Hermann Oberth revealed that an internal West German government investigation, which he headed, had arrived at an extraterrestrial conclusion, but this study was never made public.

Project Grudge

Main article: Project Grudge

Project Sign was dismantled and became Project Grudge at the end of 1948. Angered by the low quality of investigations by Grudge, the Air Force Director of Intelligence reorganized it as Project Blue Book in late 1951, placing Ruppelt in charge. Blue Book closed down in 1970, using the Condon Committee's negative conclusion as a rationale, thus ending official Air Force UFO investigations. However, a 1969 USAF document, known as the Bolender memo, along with later government documents, revealed that non-public U.S. government UFO investigations continued after 1970. The Bolender memo first stated that "reports of unidentified flying objects that could affect national security ... are not part of the Blue Book system," indicating that more serious UFO incidents already were handled outside the public Blue Book investigation. The memo then added, "reports of UFOs which could affect national security would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose." In addition, in the late 1960s a chapter on UFOs in the Space Sciences course at the U.S. Air Force Academy gave serious consideration to possible extraterrestrial origins. When word of the curriculum became public, the Air Force in 1970 issued a statement to the effect that the book was outdated and that cadets instead were being informed of the Condon Report's negative conclusion.

USAF Regulation 200-2

Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued in 1953 and 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object ("UFOB") as "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." The regulation also said UFOBs were to be investigated as a "possible threat to the security of the United States" and "to determine technical aspects involved." The regulation went on to say that "it is permissible to inform news media representatives on UFOB's when the object is positively identified as a familiar object," but added: "For those objects which are not explainable, only the fact that ATIC [Air Technical Intelligence Center] will analyze the data is worthy of release, due to many unknowns involved."

Project Blue Book

Main article: Project Blue Book

J. Allen Hynek, a trained astronomer who served as a scientific advisor for Project Blue Book, was initially skeptical of UFO reports, but eventually came to the conclusion that many of them could not be satisfactorily explained and was highly critical of what he described as "the cavalier disregard by Project Blue Book of the principles of scientific investigation." Leaving government work, he founded the privately funded CUFOS, to whose work he devoted the rest of his life. Other private groups studying the phenomenon include the MUFON, a grass roots organization whose investigator's handbooks go into great detail on the documentation of alleged UFO sightings.

Like Hynek, Jacques Vallée, a scientist and prominent UFO researcher, has pointed to what he believes is the scientific deficiency of most UFO research, including government studies. He complains of the mythology and cultism often associated with the phenomenon, but alleges that several hundred professional scientists—a group both he and Hynek have termed "the invisible college"—continue to study UFOs in private.

Scientific studies

The study of UFOs has received little support in mainstream scientific literature. Official studies ended in the U.S. in December 1969, following the statement by the government scientist Edward Condon that further study of UFOs could not be justified on grounds of scientific advancement. The Condon Report and its conclusions were endorsed by the National Academy of Scientists, of which Condon was a member. On the other hand, a scientific review by the UFO subcommittee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) disagreed with Condon's conclusion, noting that at least 30 percent of the cases studied remained unexplained and that scientific benefit might be gained by continued study.

Critics argue that all UFO evidence is anecdotal and can be explained as prosaic natural phenomena. Defenders of UFO research counter that knowledge of observational data, other than what is reported in the popular media, is limited in the scientific community and that further study is needed.

No official government investigation has ever publicly concluded that UFOs are indisputably real, physical objects, extraterrestrial in origin, or of concern to national defense. These same negative conclusions also have been found in studies that were highly classified for many years, such as the UK's Flying Saucer Working Party, Project Condign, the U.S. CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel, the U.S. military investigation into the green fireballs from 1948 to 1951, and the Battelle Memorial Institute study for the USAF from 1952 to 1955 (Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14).

Some public government reports have acknowledged the possibility of physical reality of UFOs, but have stopped short of proposing extraterrestrial origins, though not dismissing the possibility entirely. Examples are the Belgian military investigation into large triangles over their airspace in 1989–1991 and the 2009 Uruguayan Air Forcestudy conclusion (see below).

Some private studies have been neutral in their conclusions, but argued that the inexplicable core cases call for continued scientific study. Examples are the Sturrock panel study of 1998 and the 1970 AIAA review of the Condon Report.

United States

U.S. investigations into UFOs include:

Thousands of documents released under FOIA also indicate that many U.S. intelligence agencies collected (and still collect) information on UFOs. These agencies include the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), as well as military intelligence agencies of the Army and U.S. Navy, in addition to the Air Force.

The investigation of UFOs has also attracted many civilians, who in the U.S formed research groups such as NICAP (active 1956–1980), Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) (active 1952–1988), MUFON (active 1969–), and CUFOS (active 1973–).

In November 2011, the White House released an official response to two petitions asking the U.S. government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited this planet and to disclose any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. According to the response, "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race."
 Also, according to the response, there is "no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye." The response further noted that efforts, like SETI and NASA's Kepler space telescope and Mars Science Laboratory, continue looking for signs of life. The response noted "odds are pretty high" that there may be life on other planets but "the odds of us making contact with any of them—especially any intelligent ones—are extremely small, given the distances involved."

Post-1947 sightings

Following the large U.S. surge in sightings in June and early July 1947, on July 9, 1947, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) intelligence, in cooperation with the FBI,began a formal investigation into selected sightings with characteristics that could not be immediately rationalized, which included Kenneth Arnold's and that of the United Airlines crew. The USAAF used "all of its top scientists" to determine whether "such a phenomenon could, in fact, occur." The research was "being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon," or that "they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled." Three weeks later in a preliminary defense estimate, the air force investigation decided that, "This 'flying saucer' situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around."[44]

A further review by the intelligence and technical divisions of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field reached the same conclusion. It reported that "the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious," that there were objects in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance, and as big as man-made aircraft. They were characterized by "extreme rates of climb [and] maneuverability," general lack of noise, absence of trail, occasional formation flying, and "evasive" behavior "when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar," suggesting a controlled craft. It was therefore recommended in late September 1947 that an official Air Force investigation be set up to investigate the phenomenon. It was also recommended that other government agencies should assist in the investigation.

Project Sign

This led to the creation of the Air Force's Project Sign at the end of 1947, one of the earliest government studies to come to a secret extraterrestrial conclusion. In August 1948, Sign investigators wrote a top-secret intelligence estimate to that effect, but the Air Force Chief of Staff Hoyt Vandenberg ordered it destroyed. The existence of this suppressed report was revealed by several insiders who had read it, such as astronomer and USAF consultant J. Allen Hynek and Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, the first head of the USAF's Project Blue Book.

Another highly classified U.S. study was conducted by the CIA's Office of Scientific Investigation (OS/I) in the latter half of 1952 in response to orders from the National Security Council (NSC). This study concluded UFOs were real physical objects of potential threat to national security. One OS/I memo to the CIA Director (DCI) in December read:

the reports of incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention ... Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at high speeds in the vicinity of major U.S. defense installations are of such a nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or any known types of aerial vehicles.

The matter was considered so urgent that OS/I drafted a memorandum from the DCI to the NSC proposing that the NSC establish an investigation of UFOs as a priority project throughout the intelligence and the defense research and development community. It also urged the DCI to establish an external research project of top-level scientists, now known as the Robertson Panel to analyze the problem of UFOs. The OS/I investigation was called off after the Robertson Panel's negative conclusions in January 1953.

The Condon Committee

Main article: Condon Committee

A public research effort conducted by the Condon Committee for the USAF, which arrived at a negative conclusion in 1968, marked the end of the U.S. government's official investigation of UFOs, though various government intelligence agencies continue unofficially to investigate or monitor the situation.

Controversy has surrounded the Condon Report, both before and after it was released. It has been observed that the report was "harshly criticized by numerous scientists, particularly at the powerful AIAA ... [which] recommended moderate, but continuous scientific work on UFOs." In an address to the AAAS, James E. McDonald stated that he believed science had failed to mount adequate studies of the problem and criticized the Condon Report and earlier studies by the USAF as scientifically deficient. He also questioned the basis for Condon's conclusions and argued that the reports of UFOs have been "laughed out of scientific court." J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer who worked as a USAF consultant from 1948, sharply criticized the Condon Committee Report and later wrote two nontechnical books that set forth the case for continuing to investigate UFO reports.

Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book, a USAF investigation that preceded Condon's.

Notable cases


In Canada, the Department of National Defence has dealt with reports, sightings and investigations of UFOs across Canada. In addition to conducting investigations into crop circles in Duhamel, Alberta, it still considers "unsolved" the Falcon Lake incident in Manitoba and the Shag Harbour UFO incident in Nova Scotia.[49]

Early Canadian studies included Project Magnet (1950–1954) and Project Second Storey (1952–1954), supported by the Defence Research Board.


On March 2007, the French space agency CNES published an archive of UFO sightings and other phenomena online.

French studies include GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN (1977–), within CNES (French space agency), the longest ongoing government-sponsored investigation. About 22% of 6000 cases studied remain unexplained. The official opinion of GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN has been neutral, stating on their FAQ page that their mission is fact-finding for the scientific community, not rendering an opinion. They add they can neither prove nor disprove the Exterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), but their Steering Committee's clear position is that they cannot discard the possibility that some fraction of the very strange 22% of unexplained cases might be due to distant and advanced civilizations. Possibly their bias may be indicated by their use of the terms "PAN" (French) or "UAP" (English equivalent) for "Unidentified Aerospace Phenomenon" (whereas "UAP" as normally used by English organizations stands for "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon", a more neutral term). In addition, the three heads of the studies have gone on record in stating that UFOs were real physical flying machines beyond our knowledge or that the best explanation for the most inexplicable cases was an extraterrestrial one.

In 2008, Michel Scheller, president of the Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France (3AF), created the Sigma Commission. Its purpose was to investigate UFO phenomenon worldwide. A progress report published in May 2010 stated that the central hypothesis proposed by the COMETA report is perfectly credible. In December 2012, the final report of the Sigma Commission was submitted to Scheller. Following the submission of the final report, the Sigma2 Commission is to be formed with a mandate to continue the scientific investigation of UFO phenomenon.

The most notable cases of UFO sightings in France include the Valensole UFO incident in 1965, and the Trans-en-Provence Case in 1981.

United Kingdom

The UK's Flying Saucer Working Party published its final report in June 1951, which remained secret for over 50 years. The Working Party concluded that all UFO sightings could be explained as misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena, optical illusions, psychological misperceptions/aberrations, or hoaxes. The report stated: "We accordingly recommend very strongly that no further investigation of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken, unless and until some material evidence becomes available."

Eight file collections on UFO sightings, dating from 1978 to 1987, were first released on May 14, 2008, to The National Archives by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).Although kept secret from the public for many years, most of the files have low levels of classification and none are classified Top Secret. 200 files are set to be made public by 2012. The files are correspondence from the public sent to the British government and officials, such as the MoD and Margaret Thatcher. The MoD released the files under the Freedom of Information Act due to requests from researchers. These files include, but are not limited to, UFOs over Liverpool and the Waterloo Bridge in London.

On October 20, 2008, more UFO files were released. One case released detailed that in 1991 an Alitalia passenger aircraft was approaching London Heathrow Airport when the pilots saw what they described as a "cruise missile" fly extremely close to the cockpit. The pilots believed that a collision was imminent. UFO expert David Clarke says that this is one of the most convincing cases for a UFO he has come across.

A secret study of UFOs was undertaken for the Ministry of Defence between 1996 and 2000 and was code-named Project Condign. The resulting report, titled "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Defence Region", was publicly released in 2006, but the identity and credentials of whomever constituted Project Condign remains classified. The report confirmed earlier findings that the main causes of UFO sightings are misidentification of man-made and natural objects. The report noted: "No artefacts of unknown or unexplained origin have been reported or handed to the UK authorities, despite thousands of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena reports. There are no SIGINT,ELINT or radiation measurements and little useful video or still IMINT." It concluded: "There is no evidence that any UAP, seen in the UKADR [UK Air Defence Region], are incursions by air-objects of any intelligent (extraterrestrial or foreign) origin, or that they represent any hostile intent." A little-discussed conclusion of the report was that novel meteorological plasma phenomenon akin to ball lightning are responsible for "the majority, if not all" of otherwise inexplicable sightings, especially reports of black triangle UFOs.

On December 1, 2009, the Ministry of Defence quietly closed down its UFO investigations unit. The unit's hotline and email address were suspended by the MoD on that date. The MoD said there was no value in continuing to receive and investigate sightings in a release, stating

in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom. The MoD has no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings. There is no Defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources. Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MoD resources from tasks that are relevant to Defence."

The Guardian reported that the MoD claimed the closure would save the Ministry around £50,000 a year. The MoD said that it would continue to release UFO files to the public through The National Archives.

Notable cases

According to records released on August 5, 2010, British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill banned the reporting for 50 years of an alleged UFO incident because of fears it could create mass panic. Reports given to Churchill asserted that the incident involved a Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance aircraft returning from a mission in France or Germany toward the end of World War II. It was over or near the English coastline when it was allegedly intercepted by a strange metallic object that matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing. The aircraft's crew were reported to have photographed the object, which they said had "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft, before moving off. According to the documents, details of the coverup emerged when a man wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident and described how his grandfather, who had served with the RAF in the war, was present when Churchill and U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter. The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports, letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised in Parliament. They are available to download from The National Archives website.

In the April 1957 West Freugh incident in Scotland, named after the principal military base involved, two unidentified objects flying high over the UK were tracked by radar operators. The objects were reported to operate at speeds and perform maneuvers beyond the capability of any known craft. Also significant is their alleged size, which – based on the radar returns – was closer to that of a ship than an aircraft.

In the Rendlesham Forest incident of December 1980, U.S. military personnel witnessed UFOs near the air base at Woodbridge, Suffolk, over a period of three nights. On one night the deputy base commander, Colonel Charles I. Halt, and other personnel followed one or more UFOs that were moving in and above the forest for several hours. Col. Halt made an audio recording while this was happening and subsequently wrote an official memorandum summarizing the incident. After retirement from the military, he said that he had deliberately downplayed the event (officially termed 'Unexplained Lights') to avoid damaging his career. Other base personnel are said to have observed one of the UFOs, which had landed in the forest, and even gone up to and touched it.


According to some Italian ufologists, the first documented case of a UFO sighting in Italy dates back to April 11, 1933, to Varese. Documents of the time show that an alleged UFO crashed or landed near Vergiate. Following this, Benito Mussolini created a secret group to look at it, called Cabinet RS/33.

Alleged UFO sightings gradually increased since the war, peaking in 1978 and 2005. The total number of sightings since 1947 are 18,500, of which 90% are identifiable.

In 2000, Italian ufologist Roberto Pinotti published material regarding the so-called "Fascist UFO Files", which dealt with a flying saucer that had crashed near Milan in 1933 (some 14 years before the Roswell, New Mexico, crash), and of the subsequent investigation by a never mentioned before Cabinet RS/33, that allegedly was authorized byBenito Mussolini, and headed by the Nobel scientist Guglielmo Marconi. A spaceship was allegedly stored in the hangars of the SIAI Marchetti in Vergiate near Milan.

Julius Obsequens was a Roman writer who is believed to have lived in the middle of the fourth century AD. The only work associated with his name is the Liber de prodigiis(Book of Prodigies), completely extracted from an epitome, or abridgment, written by Livy; De prodigiis was constructed as an account of the wonders and portents that occurred in Rome between 249 BC-12 BC. An aspect of Obsequens' work that has inspired much interest in some circles is that references are made to things moving through the sky. These have been interpreted as reports of UFOs, but may just as well describe meteors, and, since Obsequens, probably, writes in the 4th century, that is, some 400 years after the events he describes, they hardly qualify as eye-witness accounts.

Notable cases


The Uruguayan Air Force has conducted UFO investigations since 1989 and reportedly analyzed 2,100 cases of which they regard approximately 2% as lacking explanation.

Astronomer reports

The USAF's Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1% of all unknown reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In 1952, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, then a consultant to Blue Book, conducted a small survey of 45 fellow professional astronomers. Five reported UFO sightings (about 11%). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two large surveys of the AIAA and American Astronomical Society (AAS). About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings.

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who admitted to six UFO sightings, including three green fireballs, supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being "unscientific." Another astronomer was Lincoln LaPaz, who had headed the Air Force's investigation into the green fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. LaPaz reported two personal sightings, one of a green fireball, the other of an anomalous disc-like object. (Both Tombaugh and LaPaz were part of Hynek's 1952 survey.) Hynek himself took two photos through the window of a commercial airliner of a disc-like object that seemed to pace his aircraft.

In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and Hynek for CUFOS found that 24% responded "yes" to the question "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"

Claims of increase in reports

MUFON reports that UFO sightings to their offices have increased by 67% in the previous three years as of 2011. According to MUFON international director Clifford Clift in 2011, "Over the past year, we've been averaging 500 sighting reports a month, compared to about 300 three years ago [67 percent],".

According to the annual survey of reports conducted by Canadian-based UFO research group Ufology Research, reported UFO sightings doubled in Canada from 2011-2012.

In 2013 the Peruvian government's Departamento de Investigación de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (Anomalous Aerial Phenomena Research Department), or "DIFAA", was officially reactivated due to an increase in reported sightings. According to Colonel Julio Vucetich, head of the air force's aerospace interests division who himself claims to have seen an "anomalous aerial object", "On a personal basis, it's evident to me that we are not alone in this world or universe."

In contrast, according to the UK-based Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), reports of sightings in Britain to their office have declined by 96% since 1988.

Identification of UFOs

Main article: Identification studies of UFOs
Lenticular clouds have in some cases been reported as UFOs due to their peculiar shape

Studies show that after careful investigation, the majority of UFOs can be identified as ordinary objects or phenomena. The most commonly found identified sources of UFO reports are:

A 1952–1955 study by the Battelle Memorial Institute for the USAF included these categories as well as a "psychological" one.

An individual 1979 study by CUFOS researcher Allan Hendry found, as did other investigations, that only a small percentage of cases he investigated were hoaxes (<1 %) and that most sightings were actually honest misidentifications of prosaic phenomena. Hendry attributed most of these to inexperience or misperception.

Claims by military, government, and aviation personnel

Since 2001 there have been calls for greater openness on the part of the government by various persons. In May 2001, a press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by an organization called the Disclosure Project, featuring twenty persons including retired Air Force and FAA personnel, intelligence officers and an air traffic controller. They all gave a brief account of what they knew or had witnessed, and stated that they would be willing to testify to what they had said under oath to a Congressional committee. According to a 2002 report in the Oregon Daily Emerald, Disclosure Project founder Steven M. Greer has gathered 120 hours of testimony from various government officials on the topic of UFO's, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and a Brigadier General.

In 2007, former Arizona governor Fife Symington came forward and admitted that he had seen "a massive, delta-shaped craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona" in 1997.

On September 27, 2010, a group of six former USAF officers and one former enlisted Air Force man held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on the theme "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects." They told how they had witnessed UFOs hovering near missile sites and even disarming the missiles.

From April 29 to May 3, 2013, the Paradigm Research Group held the "Citizen Hearing on Disclosure" at the National Press Club. The group paid former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel and former Representatives Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Roscoe Bartlett, Merrill Cook, Darlene Hooley, and Lynn Woolsey $20,000 each to hear testimony from a panel of researchers which included witnesses from military, agency, and political backgrounds.

Extraterrestrial hypothesis

Main article: Extraterrestrial hypothesis

While technically a UFO refers to any unidentified flying object, in modern popular culture the term UFO has generally become synonymous with alien spacecraft;however, the term ETV (ExtraTerrestrial Vehicle) is sometimes used to separate this explanation of UFOs from totally earthbound explanations.

Associated claims

Besides anecdotal visual sightings, reports sometimes include claims of other kinds of evidence, including cases studied by the military and various government agencies of different countries (such as Project Blue Book, the Condon Committee, the French GEPAN/SEPRA, and Uruguay's current Air Force study).

A comprehensive scientific review of cases where physical evidence was available was carried out by the 1998 Sturrock panel, with specific examples of many of the categories listed below.


Main article: Ufology
Photograph of "an unusual atmospheric occurrence observed over Sri Lanka", forwarded to the UK Ministry of Defence by RAF Fylingdales, 2004

Ufology is a neologism describing the collective efforts of those who study UFO reports and associated evidence.


Main article: List of ufologists


Main article: List of reported UFO sightings


Main article: List of UFO organizations


Some ufologists recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:

Popular UFO classification systems include the Hynek system, created by J. Allen Hynek, and the Vallée system, created by Jacques Vallee.

Hynek's system involves dividing the sighted object by appearance, subdivided further into the type of "close encounter" (a term from which the film director Steven Spielbergderived the title of his 1977 UFO movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

Jacques Vallée's system classifies UFOs into five broad types, each with from three to five subtypes that vary according to type.

Scientific skepticism

A scientifically skeptical group that has for many years offered critical analysis of UFO claims is the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

One example is the response to local beliefs that "extraterrestrial beings" in UFOs were responsible for crop circles appearing in Indonesia, which the government and theNational Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) described them as "man-made". Thomas Djamaluddin, research professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Lapan stated: "We have come to agree that this 'thing' cannot be scientifically proven. Scientists have put UFOs in the category of pseudoscience."

Conspiracy theories

Main article: Conspiracy theory
See also: UFO conspiracy theory, Steven M. Greer, Men in Black and Brookings Report

UFOs are sometimes an element of conspiracy theories in which governments are allegedly intentionally "covering up" the existence of aliens by removing physical evidence of their presence, or even collaborating with extraterrestrial beings. There are many versions of this story; some are exclusive, while others overlap with various other conspiracy theories.

In the U.S., an opinion poll conducted in 1997 suggested that 80% of Americans believed the U.S. government was withholding such information. Various notables have also expressed such views. Some examples are astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell, Senator Barry Goldwater, Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (the first CIA director), Lord Hill-Norton (former British Chief of Defense Staff and NATO head), the 1999 French COMETA study by various French generals and aerospace experts, and Yves Sillard (former director of CNES, new director of French UFO research organization GEIPAN).

It has also been suggested by a few paranormal authors that all or most human technology and culture is based on extraterrestrial contact (see also ancient astronauts).

Famous hoaxes

Main article: List of UFO-related hoaxes

In popular culture

Main article: UFOs in fiction

UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of the last 60 years. Gallup Polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects of widespread recognition. In 1973, a survey found that 95 percent of the public reported having heard of UFOs, whereas only 92 percent had heard of U.S. President Gerald Ford in a 1977 poll taken just nine months after he left the White House.

 A 1996 Gallup Poll reported that 71 percent of the United States population believed that the U.S. government was covering up information regarding UFOs. A 2002 Roper Poll for the Sci-Fi Channel found similar results, but with more people believing that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft. In that latest poll, 56 percent thought UFOs were real craft and 48 percent that aliens had visited the Earth. Again, about 70 percent felt the government was not sharing everything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life. In the film Yellow Submarine, Ringo states that the yellow submarine that is following him "must be one of them unidentified flying cupcakes."

Another effect of the flying saucer type of UFO sightings has been Earth-made flying saucer craft in space fiction, for example the United Planets Cruiser C57D in Forbidden Planet (1956), the Jupiter 2 in Lost in Space, and the saucer section of the USS Enterprisein Star Trek, and many others.

UFOs and extraterrestrials have been featured in many movies.

See also


  1. Jump up^ For example, the USAF's Project Blue Book concluded that less than 2 % of reported UFOs were "psychological" or hoaxes; Allan Hendry's study for CUFOS had less than 1 %.
  2. Jump up^ For example, current USAF general reporting procedures are in Air Force Instruction (AFI)10-206. Section 5.7.3 (p. 64) lists sightings of "unidentified flying objects" and "aircraft of unconventional design" as separate categories from potentially hostile but conventional, unidentified aircraft, missiles, surface vessels, or submarines. Additionally, "unidentified objects" detected by missile warning systems, creating a potential risk of nuclear war, are covered by Rule 5E (p.35).
  3. Jump up^ Many of these documents are now online at the FOIA websites of these agencies such as the FBI FOIA site at the Wayback Machine (archived May 24, 2008), as well as private websites such as The Black Vault, which has an archive of several thousand U.S. government UFO-related documents from the USAF, Army, CIA, DIA, DOD, and NSA.
  4. Jump up^ The so-called Twining memo of Sept. 23, 1947, by future USAF Chief of Staff, General Nathan Twining, specifically recommended intelligence cooperation with the Army, Navy,Atomic Energy Commission, the Defense Department's Joint Research and Development Board, Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), Project RAND, and the Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) project.
  5. Jump up^ See, e.g., the 1976 Tehran UFO incident where a Defense Intelligence Agency report on the event had a distribution list that included the White House, Secretary of State, Joint Chiefs of Staff, National Security Agency (NSA), and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Several thousand UFO-related pages of more recent vintage from the CIA, NSA, DIA, and other agencies have also been released and can be viewed online.