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Project Bluebook


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user posted image rWilliam B Stoecker: In the late forties the USAF began Project Sign for ufo investigation, superseded by Project Grudge, and, finally, by Project Bluebook, which was officially ended in 1969. During much of this time, the USAF also operated a secret ufo crash retrieval team, and probably still does.Since I was an official USAF ufo investigator for a short time before Bluebook ended, my memories of my experiences may prove to be informative. I became an officer via Air Force ROTC, graduating in 1965, and was assigned to NORAD (North American Air Defense Command), training as a radar weapons controller, or intercept director, on both manual radar and computerized SAGE (Semi Automatic Ground Environment).Proving somewhat inept at this, I was reassigned as a NORAD Intelligence Officer, and transferred from Sioux City, Iowa to Duluth, Minnesota. I proved to be quite competent in my new career field. At this time ufo investigation was still an intelligence function under Air Force Regulation (AFR) 200-2, but this was superseded by AFR 80-17, making ufo investigation a research and development function. Nevertheless, I continued to be the ufo investigator for our base as an additional duty, of which junior officers are given a great many. We also had a copy of Joint Army Navy Air Force Publication 146 (JANAP 146) which dealt primarily with air crew reports of ufos in the broad sense, including Soviet and other potentially hostile aircraft of a more or less conventional nature.Some so called "skeptics" have denied the very existence of this publication, but it was quite real.

If I received a report, whether from civilian or military personnel (and there were many such reports in 1966 and 1967) I completed a form and took it to the teletype office who sent a twx, or teletype message, to a long list of addressees, only one of which was the FTD (Foreign Technology Division) of ATIC (Air Technical Intelligence Center) at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.This was the Project Blubook office, although we never used that term, run at that time by Major Hector Quintanilla, a lieutenant, a staff sergeant, and two civilian secretaries.

There were several incidents on my watch that may give us all a bit of insight. One time, a NORAD major general named Jenson or Jenkins (hey, it's been forty years) was touring SAGE Direction Centers, including ours in Duluth, and he asked to see the ufo investigator. I hurried to the Air Division Commander's office where the general waited, and he asked me what I thought of ufos. I replied that I thought that they were a phenomenon that we should investigate thoroughly, and he said that this was true, adding that if we failed to do so, we might regret it.First lieutenants do not interrogate major generals, so I am not quite sure what he meant by that, but remember that at that time the USAF denied the very existence of ufos.

I once received a report of a ufo over downtown Duluth, heading west, and, moments later a report by some people west of town, enabling us to track its movements, and then a report by a highway patrolman still further west, who saw it descend into a lake.Ufos are often reported entering and leaving bodies of water, including the ocean. The next day I flew out in an HH 43 helicopter with our air rescue people,and we flew low over the lake but discovered nothing.

Sometime during this period we got an official letter warning us to be on the lookout for mysterious individuals who falsely claimed to be from USAF Intelligence and interrogated, or even threatened and harassed ufo witnesses.These were none other than the mysterious "men in black," and they were a very real concern. This gave me a major case of James Bond fantasies, but, alas, I had no exciting encounters.

Then we had the report of the radar sighting at Sault St. Marie, Michigan, near where an Air Force F-89 interceptor vanished while chasing a ufo back in the nineteen fifties. The objects, if they were objects, were tracked by the RAPCON (radar approach control) radar at 2,000 miles per hour, but there was no visual sighting.

The RAPCON radars have a short range but a rapid sweep, tracing around like searchlights within five seconds or so, whereas the long range search radars typically had a ten or twelve second sweep.With no visual, it was impossible to determine if the returns were real, or just anomalous propagation. However, if one of our long range search radars, from another location, had simultaneously tracked the returns, it would pretty much prove that something was out there. So I received a visit from Dr. Norman Levine and Mr. John Ahrens of the University of Colorado ufo project, a USAF funded effort to investigate (or cover up) the phenomenon. We searched in vain for radar tapes that might prove a simultaneous tracking,but these tapes were normally erased after a short time and reused. I did learn that there was dissension in the ranks in Colorado, where Dr. Levine, a Dr. Saunders, and others believed that the ufos were worth investigating, but the head of the project, Dr. Condon, a leftist with a long association with government projects, seemed bent on ridiculing and covering up all the reports.

Disillusioned in more ways than one, I left the service in 1969, and that year Project Bluebook was officially terminated. Any continuing investigation by our government is therefore completely secret, and that's the way they like it.

William B Stoecker

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