Two months after the incident at Roswell the United States Air Force began to study UFOs, originally nick-named “Project Saucer” it was soon re-named Project Sign.
The headquarters of Project Sign were located at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton , Ohio – reputed to be location where the debris etc…from theRoswell Incident was taken. Some members of Project Sign produced a report “Estimate of the Situation” which they sent, eventually, to the top command at the Pentagon.
General Hoyt S. Vandenberg ( a member of Majestic-12.) designated this report “Top Secret” but later it was rejected by the Pentagon. Project Sign was obviously having problems – internal disagreements etc..- and in order to resolve these problems the Air Force brought in, amongst others, Dr. Donald Menzel.
Menzel was a professor of astronomy at Harvard University and apparently to him all UFO reports were hoaxes, delusions or mirages. He had a massive influence and the orthodox scientific community stood firm against more sympathetic views regarding UFOs.
However, it later came to light that Menzel had strong associations with the CIA and the NSA, had spent time in New Mexico in 1947/48 and was, reputedly, a member ofMajestic-12.
Project Sign’s last report (February 1949) stated that 20 per cent of UFO reports were unexplained and recommended a more fuller investigation.
Project Grudge was then brought into being – a completely skeptical and biased group of people. Military personnel reports were always favored over reports from civilian or the more outspoken members of the scientific community and eventually the members of Project Grudge recommended a reduction in time, money and personnel utilized in the investigation of UFO reports.
The Fort Monmouth Incident.
However perhaps one event on 10th September 1951 sealed the fate of Project Grudge more than any other – the detection of a UFO over a US Army base at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. A bright glowing blip suddenly flashed on the radar screens, appearing to be 11,000 metres to the southeast of Fort Monmouth – it traveled too quickly to be automatically followed by the radar and the operator had to switch to manual control. The object finally disappeared at a distance of 13,000 metres – apparently traveling at 1,100 k/ph – even the fastest jets, at that time, did not travel at that kind of speed.
Twenty five minutes later a T-33 jet, piloted by Lt. Wilbert S. Rogers in the vicinity of the base, chased an object traveling at 1,400 k/ph – the object was “silver-colored, perfectly round and flat”. Rogers and his passenger dived at the object from 6,000 metres but could not catch it. They observed it cover a distance of 30 kilometers, bank into a 120-degree turn and disappear out to sea.
The following day two more high speed UFOs were tracked by Fort Monmouth radar – due to overcast skies no visual observations were made.
Major General Charles Cabell, Head of Air Force Intelligence at the Pentagon, ordered a full investigation into the event – his orders reaching Lt. Gerry Cummings (new) Director of Project Grudge.
Cummings was surprised to find that others within Project Grudge had solved the case – without even leaving their desks. According to their report ” the whole outfit (Fort Monmouth) were a bunch of young, impressionable kids and the T-33 crew had seen a reflection”.
Cummings immediately opened his own investigation, interviewing everyone involved in the event at Fort Monmouth including the T-33’s pilot and passenger, who were convinced the UFO was far from a reflection and were certain that it was “intelligently controlled”.
The T-33 jet fighter was regarded as extremely fast in the 1950’3 – but not fast enough to catch the UFOs which appeared on radar at Fort Monmouth
After the true facts were reported to Cabell, he asked how such investigations were handled in general by Grudge. Cummings replied ,”Every report is taken as a huge joke. General Harold Watson had ordered them to degrade the quality of all reports and to think up new and original explanations that had not been sent to Washington before”.
Cabell was enraged, shouting “I’ve been lied to. I want open minds, anyone without an open mind can get out of Grudge now.” Despite ordering Cummings to re-organize – Project Grudge had failed.
In 1952 the U.S. Air Force set up Project Blue Book (to replace Project Grudge) with a high profile – based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The first chief of Blue Book was Edward Ruppelt of Air Force Intelligence who, it appears, was open-minded regarding UFOs. Ruppelt favoured new scientific methods, appointing Dr. Allen J. Hynek as chief scientific advisor. Project Blue Book was assigned a higher security classification than Grudge and employed more staff, whilst channels were established for members of the military to report their own sightings. Although all reports could not be investigated, high priority cases were routinely investigated in person for the first time.
Ruppelt claimed to have coined the term “Unidentified Flying Object” in order to deflect some of the controversy and ridicule associated with the term “Flying Saucer”. Ruppelt’s leadership of Blue Book lasted less than two years when the powers that be resorted to precedent – where UFOs were concerned secrecy was the best policy. This return to old attitudes was ushered in by an event that resulted in the largest Pentagon press conference since World War 11.