Conspiracy theorists love UFOs and the idea that the government knows about aliens, and the government certainly doesn’t help with dispelling those rumors. Recently, the New York Times reported that for the first time, the Pentagon admitted they had run a secretive program that investigated UFO sightings. It was called the “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” and while they lost their funding in 2012, a former head official said it’s still running. The most famous example of the US government getting involved with UFOs, however, is found in Project Blue Book.
The project officially began in 1951, but was triggered by an event in 1947. Over a one-month period, a pilot spotted nine strange objects in the sky. Newspapers jumped on the story, and lit up the country’s obsession with UFOs, especially in Roswell, New Mexico. The Air Force started Project Blue Book, made up of a team of air force leaders and experts, to look into the UFOs. A year later, there were so many sightings that President Truman worried it would cause collective hysteria. The CIA joined the project. In 1969, after looking into thousands of reports, Project Blue Book shut down.
The files ended up in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and for years, you could only see them if you traveled there and broke out the microfilm projector. The entire thing is 130,000 pages long. Now, you can find huge portions of Project Blue Book online at the Black Vault, which claims to be the largest privately-run online collection of declassified government documents.
Project Blue Book has a significant presence in pop culture, including “Twin Peaks.” You can find out more about the real Project Blue Book on the History Channel, which hosts a drama/thriller series (simply called “Project Blue Book”) starring Aidan Gillen (of “Game of Thrones” fame). He plays J. Allen Hynek, a real-life scientist famous for his UFO studies and work on Project Blue Book. The show’s second season will air in sometime in 2020.