Project Blue Book was the United States Air Force
's official UFO
study program from 1952
. It was based on the earlier Projects Sign
. Following these effort
s, the CIA
convened a group
s (the so-called Robertson Panel
, headed by H. P. Robertson
) who stated that, although the UFO's themselves seemed to be neither extraterrestrial
or a threat to the United States
, the fear
they engendered could pose a threat
to national security
. They also recommended that the Air Force explain as many reports as possible, and essentially ignore
Blue Book was originally set up after a well-documented series of UFO sightings over Washington, D.C. (the objects were sighted by multiple observers and appeared on radar). After the Robertson Panel, its mandate became to explain (in non-extraterrestrial terms) any and all UFO sightings reported to them, so as to minimize any public fear that the nation's airspace was being violated. This was very different from Project Sign's attempt to determine the true nature of UFO's - now the Air Force were determined to bury the "little green men" hypothesis once and for all.
From 1965-67, a rash of UFO sightings (similar to one in 1947) swept the country. Congress approved half a million dollars in funding for a civilian panel to examine the reports. Headed by Dr. Edward Condon, this committee concluded that UFO sightings were the products of mass hysteria, fraud, and mental illness. The "Condon Report" was essentially the death warrant for Blue Book, now seen as redundant and unnecessary. It was closed down in March 1969.
Of the over 12,000 reports Blue Book received, 701 cases remained "unsolved" at its close. Many of the others were given explanations so trite, cursory, or scientifically shifty that organizations like NICAP accused the project of engaging in a coverup. However since Blue Book had at best a skeleton staff and no dedicated investigative resources, a more likely explanation might be a simple inability to back up their conclusions with real evidence.
One of the people who consulted on Blue Book was Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Initially a complete skeptic, he later made important contributions to the study of UFO’s and became known to many as the “father of ufology”.