History of the United States Air Force UFO Programs

Annotated Bibliography

Carpenter, Joel. Guided Missiles and UFOs: A Tangle of Fear—1937-1953 (A Ghost Rocket Chronology). 17 July 2005.
Available online from: http://www.project1947.com/gr/grchron1.htm.
See also: Joel Carpenter, Green Fireball Chronology: 1946-February 1948, from: http://www.project1947.com/gfb/gfbintro.html.

Joel Carpenter is an aviation historian. This four-part chronology examines early rocketry and missile development at the beginning of the Cold War; and the complex interplay with mysterious aerial phenomena called ghost rockets, and unidentified flying objects. In 1946, numerous unconventional aircraft reported over Sweden provoked a great deal of speculation in the technical intelligence organizations of Britain and the U.S. Were the ghost rockets a Soviet advancement of appropriated Nazi technologies? Joel presents a tapestry of well-researched documentation that chronicles the genesis of the modern UFO phenomenon—and the enduring mystery.

Chester, Keith. Strange Company: Military Encounters with UFOs in WWII. San Antonio: Anomalist Books, 2007.

Chester provides a well-researched, in-depth account of unconventional aircraft observed and reported by the military during World War II. During this time, military personnel observed numerous highly unconventional aircraft in all theaters of operation. Sometimes refered to as “foo-fighters,” these objects had extraordinary performance capabilities, came in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, were able to travel at high speeds and avoid radar detection. Strange Company includes the reactions by military commands, their viewpoints, and theories as they struggled to make sense of the observations.

More information from: http://www.anomalistbooks.com/chester.html.

Bloecher, Ted. Report on the UFO Wave of 1947. Washington, DC: the author, 1967.
Available online from: http://nicap.org/waves/Wave47Rpt/ReportUFOWave1947_Menu.htm.

In the 1960s, researcher Ted Bloecher traveled extensively in search of original news reports of unidentified flying objects in the 1947 newspaper files of local libraries. In all, he surveyed over 140 newspapers, representing over 90 cities and towns in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada. Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 provides an invaluable reference for earliest press accounts and analyses of the genesis of the contemporary UFO issue.

Strentz, Herbert J. “A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1947 - 1966.” (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1970).

Strentz expands Bloecher’s report over a twenty-year period. His stated purpose is two-fold: a comprehensive survey of a body of data to assist the reader in understanding the UFO phenomenon, and press coverage of UFOs; and critical analysis of the coverage to determine the role(s) the press played in the UFO phenomenon, and what critical judgements could be made about the nature of press performance. He asks whether the UFO phenomenon was created by the press—or if press coverage was merely “opportunistic”and prejudgmental of UFOs as nonsense.

Swords, Michael D. “Project Sign and the Estimate of the Situation.” Journal of UFO Studies, n.s. 7, 2000: 27-64.
Available online from: http://www.nicap.org/papers/swords_Sign_EOTS.htm. Also HTML version available from: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/sociopolitica/sign/sign.htm.

Michael Swords, Ph.D., is professor of Natural Science at Western Michigan University, former editor of the Journal for UFO Studies and author of numerous articles on UFOs.

With the explosion of reports of anomalous aerial phenomena in the summer of 1947, the U.S. Air Force instituted emergency studies leading to a formalized study project in January 1948, codenamed Project Sign. Swords examines the genesis of the project within the enclaves of USAF intelligence, the personalities, and official attitudes, which set the tone for USAF behavior toward UFOs in following years.

Swords, Michael D. “UFOs, the Military, and the Early Cold War Era." In UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge, ed. David M. Jacobs, 82–121. University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Swords examines the military intelligence confusion regarding “ghost rocket” reports in Sweden during 1946, and the effect that emerging cold war policies had on the early U.S. military UFO investigations and studies. He concludes: “The cold war had a marked, unhelpful impact on the study of the UFO phenomenon. The tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union required that the subject be treated as a security matter than one of scientific research.”

Ruppelt, Edward J. The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1956.
Available online from: http://www.nicap.org/rufo/contents.htm.

Ruppelt was head of Project Blue Book from 1951-1953, a time when investigations were materially supported by the AF and capably conducted. Regarded as one of the major works of UFO literature, Ruppelt provides an authoritative inside account of the early Air Force involvement investigating UFOs, including some of the most celebrated cases in UFO history.

McCarthy, Paul. “Politics and Paradigm Shifting: James E. McDonald and the UFO Study.” (Ph.D. diss., University of Hawaii, 1975) the author.
Available online from: http://www.project1947.com/shg/mccarthy/index.html#shgintro.

Within the theme of the “politics of science,” acknowledging Thomas Kuhn’s work, McCarthy provides a study of professor James E. McDonald (Institute for Atmospheric Physics, University of Arizona), and his tireless struggle to gain acceptance for a systematic study of UFOs at a defining period in UFO history (1966-1970).

Druffel, Ann. Firestorm: Dr. James McDonald’s Fight for UFO Science. Columbus, NC: Wildflower Press, 2003

Druffel spent many years archiving McDonald's private archives, now at the University of Arizona library. Through her efforts and pursuit of interviews with family, friends, and colleagues of McDonald, she provides more than just a biography of a formidible and passionate scientist, but a moving chronicle of McDonald’s and other researchers efforts to get mainstream science to take the UFO subject seriously.

Hynek, J. Allen. The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. Chicago, IL: Henry Regnery Company, 1972.

J. Allen Hynek, Ph.D., was a professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, Associate Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and later, chairman of the Astronomy Department at Northwestern University. From 1948 until 1969 he served as the scientific consultant to the USAF official study of the UFO phenomenon, code named Project Blue Book. In 1972, Hynek published his classic book, The UFO Experience, in which he presented his categories for grouping UFO sightings and coined the phrase, "Close Encounters." In 1973, he founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in Evanston, IL and served as its scientific director until his death in 1986.

Hynek, J. Allen. The Hynek UFO Report. Dell Publishing Company, December 1977. (Reissued: Barnes and Noble Books, 1997).

Hynek provides a detailed criticism of Project Blue Book and points out problems with the way the Air Force's UFO investigations were organized. Written as a casebook he distills thousands of UFO sighting reports, justifying a subject worthy of a proper scientific investigation.

Vallee, Jacques. Forbidden Science: Journals 1957-1969. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1992. Also: Forbidden Science: Journals 1970-1979, Volume Two. San Francisco, CA: Documatica Research, 2009.

Jacques Vallee, Ph.D., is one of the leading experts in UFO phenomena and author of several well-respected scientific books on the subject. With his mentor, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Vallee carefully studied the problem of UFOs for many years. In Forbidden Science he opens his personal journals (1957-1969) to provide an autobiographical account of the evolving views and behind-the-scenes experiences of one of ufology’s most influential figures.

Quintanilla, Hector Jr. UFO’s: An Air Force Dilemma (unpublished MS). The author, 1974.
Available online from: http://www.noufors.com/Documents/afdilemma.pdf. [Mirrored at: http://www.ufologie.net/doc/quintanilla.pdf].

This unedited memoir of Lt. Col. Quintanilla’s involvement investigating UFOs as head of USAF Project Blue Book, provides an opportunity to examine the attitudes (often adversarial), and biases of the author, that dominated the methodology and practices employed by the USAF investigations from 1963 until its termination in January 1970. [Quintanilla was also responsible for the investigation and drafting of the 24 Oct. 1968 Minot final case report].

Jacobs, David M. The UFO Controversy in America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975.

David Jacobs, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of History at Temple University, and author of numerous articles and books on UFOs and abductions. This work is still the definitive scholarly history of the UFO controversy in America, and the various cultural responses to it.

Clark, Jerome. The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon From The Beginning (2-volume set). Detroit: Omnigraphics Books, 1998.

Jerome Clark is a highly-respected author and researcher of UFOs and anomalous phenomenon. The UFO Encyclopedia is a lucidly written 1178-page reference work, which thoroughly presents the UFO phenomenon in all its aspects and is widely-regarded as a tour de force on the UFO subject.

Steven J. Dick. “The UFO Controversy and the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis” in The Biological Universe: The Twentieth-century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science, 267-320. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Steven Dick, Ph.D., is an astronomer and Chief Historian for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Biological Universe is a historical account of the major ideas, themes, personalities, controversies and developments of the extraterrestrial life debate in the twentieth-century. Within this context, he examines the UFO controversy and the popular hypothesis that extraterrestrial intelligence could be behind the UFO phenomenon.

Bullard, Thomas E. “UFOs: Lost in the Myths.” In UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge, ed. David M. Jacobs, 141–191. University Press of Kansas, 2000.

Thomas Bullard, Ph.D., is as folklore scholar, exploring the relationship between UFOs and traditional beliefs. This superb study delineates the relationship of myth, or the human meanings of UFOs, from the experiential nature of the UFO phenomenon.

Peebles, Curtis. Watch the Skies: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.

Curtis Peebles is an aerospace historian. Watch the Skies is a critical history of the UFO phenomenon that examines the rise of the UFO myth in American culture; arguing that all UFO reports are misinterpretations of conventional objects, atmospheric phenomena, delusional experiences, or hoaxes. Quoting from the Introduction: “The flying saucer myth is a mirror to the events of post-war America—the paranoia of the 1950s, the social turmoil of the 1960s, the ‘me generation’ of the 1970s, and the nihilism of the 1980s and the early 1990s. As the flying saucer myth entered popular culture, images and ideas were created that, in turn, shaped the flying saucer myth itself.”

Endnotes ››


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