The Durant Report: Full Text Intelligence Report

The Durant Report: Full Text Intelligence Report

This file contains the text of a document known variably and interchangeably as The Durant Report or The Robertson Panel Report.

In truth, the above named items are indeed different items, but the Panel report is contained in the Durant Report, which is a detailed report of the Panel proceedings.

It is the REPORT OF SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL ON UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS CONVENED BY OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC INTELLIGENCE, CIA January 14 – 18, 1953, and three associated “Tabs”.

We believe this version to be the latest, most complete version available. Certainly, it is the latest to be released by the Central Intelligence Agency. Comparison with several other versions released over the years seem to confirm that.

Items such as the question of the “Tabs” are resolved in this version. Some earlier versions did not label the 2-page “panel report”, but it takes it’s proper place as “Tab A” in this version.

We have been working on documenting as much as possible about the early 1950’s. The Robertson Panel was of special interest. The documents we obtained indicated that it was likely that the President at least had knowledge of the actions of the Intelligence Advisory Committee in ordering the Robertson Panel to be convened. [1]

When we began our FOIA requests for this document, we thought that the report itself should be pretty easy to get through the National Archives.

We were mistaken.

The Archives did not have a copy and informed us that the Durant Report was in the custody of the CIA. We filed FOIA requests with the CIA. Please note the length of time this FOIA request took. Please also note that, protestations to the contrary, the CIA did have the document in their custody, in fact, several versions of it.

Later, the CIA did provide a copy to the National Archives, a copy of which we obtained. It is not identical with the copy which is in this file. Neither was that copy the same as material previously provided by the CIA.

A “sanitized” version of the Panel Report (Tab A) only was released long ago through the efforts of Dr. Leon Davidson and another, still “sanitized” yet more complete version of the whole document through the efforts of Anne Druffel. [2]

Also, a sanitized version was published as Appendix Y in The Condon Report. [3]

And several versions, (or partial copies), came as part of the nearly 900 pages of UFO related material the CIA had previously declassified and had provided to other FOIA requestors. (Purchased by us from the CIA in 1992.)

None of the copies obtained from the CIA were completely legible. All differed in some detail: some were on legal sized paper, some on letter sized paper, some double spaced, some single spaced, no version had the signatures of the Panel members. Typefaces, that is typewriters, differed between the versions, as did line breaks and pagination.

All this is a clear indication that several versions of the report have been prepared and released by the CIA over the years and were circulating.

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NOTES

[1] The Confirmation Paper (Available here on CUFON)
[2] Druffel, 1975 (CUFOS)
[3] Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1969

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[ ] Items in square brackets blacked out (actual text if visible, “BLACKED OUT” if not visible)
{ } Items in curly brackets describe items not possible to represent in ASCII
XXX Indicates page breaks

Pagination has been maintained, but note that the copy supplied was on legal sized sheets and was double-spaced.

Central Intelligence Agency
{CIA SEAL}
Washington, D.C. 20505

28 NOV 1994

Mr. Dale Goudie
[Address deleted by CUFON]

Reference: F92-0970

Dear Mr. Goudie:

This is further to our letter dated 6 September 1994 and acknowledges receipt of your letter dated 16 October 1994 concerning the above referenced Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for information pertaining to the Durant Report which is also referred to as the Robertson Report. Specifically, you questioned our “no records” response to your request and you “submit to [us] that the ‘no records’ response is not appropriate given the situation as [you] outlined” in your 16 October letter.

As you are aware, on 23 September 1991 you requested records pertaining to “the Robertson Panel…[and] one ‘Robertson Panel’ report” (F91-1615). On 11 October 1991 (enclosed), we informed you that we had conducted searches in our other records systems on behalf of an earlier requester for information regarding the subject of your request, the results of which were negative. Notwithstanding the results of that search, we conducted a search in our computerized system of previously released material and provided you with 25 pages of material that we thought might be somewhat responsive to your request.

As a matter of administrative discretion, enclosed is another copy of the material which has been previously provided to you at least once. We also advised you that the report to which you referred was “released by the Air Force Office of Public Information on 9 April 1958” and that you should submit your request to the Air Force or to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) as it was our understanding the Air Force had turned its records over to NARA.

On 9 November 1991 (F91-2167), you requested once again documents concerning the Robertson Panel Report regarding the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects. On 25 February 1992 (enclosed), we referred you to your F92-0259 request for “copies of the ‘nearly 900 pages of UFO-related documents’ which were released in 1978 or 1979” wherein we had offered you the released material for a cost of ten cents a page less the first 100 pages.

We also referred you to our 11 October 1991 letter with respect to your F91-1615 request wherein we had provided you with all releasable material regarding the Roberson Panel, and wherein we had referred you to the Air Force and NARA with respect to that request.

On 10 March 1992, you submitted another FOIA request for copy of “the ‘Durant Report resulting from the 1953 Robertson Panel.” On 31 March 1992 (enclosed), we referred you to our 25 February 1992 letter, which discussed your F92-0260 and F91-1615 requests, wherein we had informed you that on 11 October 1991 we had provided you with all releasable material from this agency on the Robertson Panel with respect to your F91-1615 request.

We also advised you that the Durant Report is another name for the Robertson Report. We once again referred you to NARA and the Air Force.

Notwithstanding the above, in response to your 30 April 1992 FOIA request 1F92-0970) wherein you insisted that we conduct another search of our records systems for the Durant Report (Robertson Report), in an effort to assist you, we advised you on 4 June 1992 that we would conduct a search of our records systems for responsive material. As a result of our thorough and diligent searches, on 6 September 1994 we informed you that we were unable to locate the records requested.

In light of the extreme efforts that we have taken over the years to accommodate you with respect to your concerns, we feel it inappropriate to conduct yet another search on your behalf.

Therefore, we are unable to assist you further and will not discuss this matter with you further.

Sincerely,

/s/ John H. Wright

John H. Wright
Information and Privacy Coordinator

Enclosure

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REPORT OF MEETINGS OF SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL

ON UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

CONVENED BY OFFICE OF SCIENTIFIC INTELLIGENCE, CIA

January 14-18, 1953

RELEASED____________________

F. C. Durant

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INDEX

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16 February 1953

PURPOSE

The purpose of this memorandum is to present:

PART I

HISTORY OF MEETINGS

GENERAL

After consideration of the subject of “unidentified flying objects” at the 4 December meeting of the Intelligence Advisory Committee, the following action was agreed:

“The Director of Central Intelligence will:

a. Enlist the services of selected scientists to review and appraise the available evidence in the light of pertinent scientific theories….”

Following the delegation of this action to the Assistant Director for Scientific Intelligence and preliminary investigation,

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an Advisory Panel of selected scientists was assembled. In cooperation with the Air Technical Intelligence Center, case histories of reported sightings and related material were made available for their study and consideration.

Present at the initial meeting (0930 Wednesday, 14 January) were: Dr. H. P. Robertson, Dr. Luis W. Alvarez, Dr. Thornton Page, Dr. Samuel A. Goudsmit, Mr. Philip G. Strong, Lt. Col. Frederick C. E. Oder (P&E Division), Mr. David B. Stevenson (W&E Division), and the writer. Panel Member, Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, was absent until Friday afternoon. Messrs. Oder and Stevenson were present throughout the sessions to familiarize themselves with the subject, represent the substantive interest of their Divisions, and assist in administrative support of the meetings. (A list of personnel concerned with the meetings is given in Tab A.).

WEDNESDAY MORNING

The AD/SI opened the meeting, reviewing CIA interest in the subject and action taken. This review included the mention of the O/SI Study Group of August 1952 (Strong, Eng and Durant) culminating in the briefing of the DCI, the ATIC November 21 briefing, 4 December IAC consideration, visit to ATIC (Chadwell, Robertson and Durant), and O/SI concern over potential dangers to national security indirectly related to these sightings. Mr. Strong enumerated these potential dangers. Following this introduction, Dr. Chadwell turned the meeting over to

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Dr. Robertson as Chairman of the Panel. Dr. Robertson enumerated the evidence available and requested consideration of specific reports and letters be taken by certain individuals present (Tab B).

For example, case histories involving radar or radar and visual sightings were selected for Dr. Alvarez while reports of Green Fireball phenomena, nocturnal lights, and suggested programs of investigation were routed to Dr. Page. Following these remarks, the motion pictures of the sightings at Tremonton, Utah (2 July 1952) and Great Falls, Montana (15 August 1950) were shown. The meeting adjourned at 1200.

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON

The second meeting of the Panel opened at 1400. Lt. R. S. Neasham, USN, and Mr. Harry Woo of the USN Photo Interpretation Laboratory, Anacostia, presented the results of their analyses of the films mentioned above. This analysis evoked considerable discussion as elaborated upon below. Besides Panel members and CIA personnel, Capt. E. J. Ruppelt, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Mr. Dewey J. Fournet, Capt. Harry B. Smith (2-a-2), and Dr. Stephen Possony were present.

Following the Photo Interpretation Lab presentation, Mr. E. J. Ruppelt spoke for about 40 minutes on ATIC methods of handling and evaluating reports of sightings and their efforts to improve the quality of reports. The meeting was adjourned at 1715.

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THURSDAY MORNING

The third and fourth meetings of the Panel were held Thursday, 15 January, commencing at 0900 with a two-hour break for luncheon. Besides Panel members and CIA personnel, Mr. Ruppelt and Dr. Hynek were present for both sessions. In the morning, Mr. Ruppelt continued his briefing on ATIC collection and analysis procedures. The Project STORK support at Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, was described by Dr. Hynek. A number of case histories were discussed in detail and a motion picture film of seagulls was shown.

A two hour break for lunch was taken at 1200.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON

At l400 hours Lt. Col. Oder gave a 40-minute briefing of Project TWINKLE, the investigatory project conducted by the Air Force Meteorological Research Center at Cambridge, Mass. In this briefing he pointed out the many problems of setting up and manning 24-hour instrumentation watches of patrol cameras searching for sighting of U.F.O.’s.

At 1615 Brig. Gen William M. Garland joined the meeting with AD/SI. General Garland expressed his support of the Panel’s efforts and stated three personal opinions:

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This meeting was adjourned at 1700.

FRIDAY MORNING

The fifth session of the Panel convened at 0900 with the same personnel present as enumerated for Thursday (with the exception of Brig. Gen. Garland).

From 0900 – 1000 there was general discussion and study of reference material. Also, Dr. Hynek read a prepared paper making certain observations and conclusions. At 1000 Mr. Fournet gave a briefing on his fifteen months experience in Washington as Project Officer for U.F.O.’s and his personal conclusions. There was considerable discussion of individual case histories of sightings to which he referred. Following Mr. Fournet’s presentation, a number of additional case histories were examined and discussed with Messrs. Fournet, Ruppelt, and Hynek. The meeting adjourned at 1200 for luncheon.

FRIDAY AFTERNOON

This session opened at 1400. Besides Panel members and CIA personnel, Dr. Hynek was present. Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, as Panel Member, was present at this meeting for the first time. Progress of the meetings was reviewed by the Panel Chairman and tentative

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conclusions reached. A general discussion followed and tentative recommendations considered. It was agreed that the Chairman should draft a report of the Panel to AD/SI that evening for review by the Panel the next morning. The meeting adjourned at 1715.

SATURDAY MORNING

At 0945 the Chairman opened the seventh session and submitted a rough draft of the Panel Report to the members. This draft had been reviewed and approved earlier by Dr. Berkner. The next two and one-half hours were consumed in discussion and revision of the draft. At 1100 the AD/SI joined the meeting and reported that he had shown and discussed a copy of the initial rough draft to the Director of Intelligence, USAF, whose reaction was favorable. At 1200 the meeting was adjourned.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

At 1400 the eighth and final meeting of the Panel was opened. Discussion and rewording of certain sentences of the Report occupied the first hours. (A copy of the final report is appended as Tab C.)

This was followed by a review of work accomplished by the Panel and restatement of individual Panel Member’s opinions and suggestions on details that were felt inappropriate for inclusion in the formal report. It was agreed that the writer would incorporate these comments in an internal report to the AD/SI. The material below represents this information.

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PART II

CONCERNS AND SUGGESTIONS OF PANEL

GENERAL

The Panel Members were impressed (as have been others, including OS/I personnel) in the lack of sound data in the great majority of case histories; also, in the lack of speedy follow-up due primarily to the modest size and limited facilities of the ATIC section concerned.

Among the case histories of significant sightings discussed in detail were the following:

After review and discussion of these cases (and about 15 others, in less detail), the Panel concluded that reasonable explanations could be suggested for most sightings and “by deduction and scientific method it could be induced (given additional data) that other cases might be explained in a similar manner.” The Panel pointed out that because of the brevity of some sightings (e.g. 2-3 seconds) and the inability of the witnesses to express themselves clearly (sometimes) that conclusive explanations could not be expected for every case reported. Furthermore, it was considered that, normally, it would be a great waste of effort to try to solve most of the sightings, unless such action would benefit a training and educational program (see below). The writings of Charles Fort were referenced to show

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that “strange things in the sky” had been recorded for hundreds of years. It appeared obvious that there was no single explanation for a majority of the things seen. The presence of radar and astronomical specialists on the Panel proved of value at once in their confident recognition of phenomena related to their fields. It was apparent that specialists in such additional fields as psychology, meteorology, aerodynamics, ornithology and military air operations would extend the ability of the Panel to recognize many more categories of little-known phenomena.

ON LACK OF DANGER

The Panel concluded unanimously that there was no evidence of a direct threat to national security in the objects sighted. Instances of “Foo Fighters” were cited. These were unexplained phenomena sighted by aircraft pilots during World War II in both European and Far East theaters of operation wherein “balls of light” would fly near or with the aircraft and maneuver rapidly. They were believed to be electrostatic (similar to St. Elmo’s fire) or electromagnetic phenomena or possibly light reflections from ice crystals in the air, but their exact cause or nature was never defined. Both Robertson and Alvares had been concerned in the investigation of these phenomena, but David T. Griggs (Professor of Geophysics at the University of California at Los Angeles) is believed to have been the most knowledgeable person on this subject. If the term “flying saucers” had been popular in 1943-1945, these objects would

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have been so labeled. It was interesting that in at least two cases reviewed that the object sighted was categorized by Robertson and Alvarez as probably “Foo Fighters”, to date unexplained but not dangerous; they were not happy thus to dismiss the sightings by calling them names. It was their feeling that these phenomena are not beyond the domain of present knowledge of physical sciences, however.

AIR FORCE REPORTING SYSTEM

It was the Panel’s opinion that some of the Air Force concern over U.F.O.’s (notwithstanding Air Defense Command anxiety over fast radar tracks) was probably caused by public pressure. The result today is that the Air Force has instituted a fine channel for receiving reports of nearly anything anyone sees in the sky and fails to understand. This has been particularly encouraged in popular articles on this and other subjects, such as space travel and science fiction. The result is the mass receipt of low-grade reports which tend to overload channels of communication with material quite irrelevant to hostile objects that might some day appear. The Panel agreed generally that this mass of poor-quality reports containing little, if any, scientific data was of no value. Quite the opposite, it was possibly dangerous in having a military service foster public concern in “nocturnal meandering lights.” The implication being, since the interested agency was military, that these objects were or might be potential direct threats to national security. Accordingly, the need for deemphasization made itself apparent. Comments on a possible educational program are enumerated below.

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It was the opinion of Dr. Ro4ertson that the “saucer” problem had been found to be different in nature from the detection and investigation of German V-1 and V-2 guided missiles prior to their operational use in World War II. In this 1943-1944 intelligence operation (CROSSBOW), there was excellent intelligence and by June 1944 there was material evidence of the existence of “hardware” obtained from crashed vehicles in Sweden. This evidence gave the investigating team a basis upon which to operate. The absence of any “hardware” resulting from unexplained U.F.O. sightings lends a “will-of-the wisp) nature to the ATIC problem. The results of their investigation, to date, strongly indicate that no evidence of hostile act or danger exists. Furthermore, the current reporting system would have little value in the case of detection of enemy attack by conventional aircraft or guided missiles; under such conditions “hardware” would be available almost at once.

ARTIFACTS OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL ORIGIN

It was interesting to note that none of the members of the Panel were loath to accept that this earth might be visited by extra-terrestrial intelligent beings of some sort, some day. What they did not find was any evidence that related the objects sighted to space travelers. Mr. Fournet, in his presentation, showed how he had eliminated ach of the known and probable causes of sightings leaving him “extra-terrestrial” as the only one remaining in many cases. Fournet’s background as an aeronautical engineer and technical intelligence

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officer (Project Officer, BLUEBOOK for 15 months) could not be slighted. However, the Panel could not accept any of the cases cited by him because they were raw, unevaluated reports.

Terrestrial explanations of the sightings were suggested in some cases and in others the time of sighting was so short as to cause suspicion of visual impressions. It was noted by Dr. Goudsmit and others that extraterrestrial artifacts, if they did exist, are no cause for alarm; rather, they are in the realm of natural phenomena subject to scientific study, just as cosmic rays were at the time of their discovery 20 to 30 years ago.

This was an attitude in which Dr. Robertson did not concur, as he felt that such artifacts would be of immediate and great concern not only to the U.S. but to all countrics. (Nothing like a common threat to unite peoples! )

Dr. Page noted that present astronomical knowledge of the solar system makes the existence of intelligent beings (as we know the term) elsewhere than on the earth extremely unlikely, and the concentration of their attention by any controllable means confined to any one continent of the earth quite preposterous.

TREMONTON, UTAH, SIGHTING

This case was considered significant because of the excellent documentary evidcnce in the form of Kodachrome motion picture films (about 1600 frames). The Panel studied these films, the case history, ATIC’s interpretation, and received a briefing by representatives of the USN Photo Interpretation Laboratory on their analysis of the film. This team had expended (at Air Force request) approximately

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1000 man hours of professional and sub-professional time in the preparation of graph plots of individual frames of the film, showng apparent and relative motion of objects and variation in their light intensity.

It was the opinion of the P.I.L. representatives that the objects sighted were not birds, balloons or aircraft, were “not reflections because there was no blinking while passing through 60 degrees of arc” and were, therefore, “self-luminous.” Plots of motion and variation in light intensity of the objects were displayed. While the Panel Members were impressed by the evident enthusiasm, industry and extent of effort of the P.I.L. team, they could not accept the conclusions reached. Some of the reasons for this were as follows:

a. A semi-spherical object can readily produce a reflection of sunlight without “blinking” through 60″ of arc travel.

b. Although no data was available on the “albedo” of birds or polyethylene balloons in bright sunlight, the apparent motions, sizes and brightnesses of the objects were considered strongly to suggest birds, particularly after the Panel viewed a short film showing high reflectivity of seagulls in bright sunlight.

c. P.I.L. description of the objects sighted as “circular, bluish-white” in color would be expected in cases of specular reflections of sunlight from convex surfaces where the brilliance of the reflection would obscure other portions of the object.

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d. Objects in the Great Falls case were believed to have probably been aircraft, and the bright lights such reflections.

e. There was no valid reason for the attempt to relate the objects in the Tremonton sighting to those in the Great Falls sighting. This may have been due to misunderstanding in their directive. The objects in the Great Falls sighting are strongly suspected of being reflections of aircraft known to have been in the area.

f. The intensity change in the Tremonton lights was too great for acceptance of the P.I.L. hypothesis that the apparent motion and changing intensity of the lights indicated extremely high speed in small orbital paths.

g. Apparent lack of guidance of investigators by those familiar with U.F.O. reports and explanations.

h. Analysis of light intensity of objects made from duplicate rather than original film. The original film was noted to have a much lighter background (affecting relative brightness of object) and the objects appeared much less bright.

i. Method of obtaining data of light intensity appeared faulty because of unsuitability of equipment and questionable assumptions in making averages of readings.

j. No data had been obtained on the sensitivity of Kodachrome film to light of various intensities using the same camera type at the same lens openings.

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k. Hand “jitter” frequencies (obtainable from early part of Tremonton film) were not removed from the plots of the “single pass plots” at the end of the film.

The Panel believed strongly that the data available on this sighting was sufficient for positive identification if further data is obtained by photographing polyethylene “pillow” balloons released near the site under similar weather conditions, checking bird flight and reflection characteristics with competent ornithologists and calculating apparent “G” forces acting upon objects from their apparent tracks. It was concluded that the results of such tests would probably lead to creditable explanations of value in an educational or training program.

However, the Panel noted that the cost in technical manpower effort required to follow up and explain every one of the thousand or more reports received through channels each year (1,900 in 1952) could not be justified. It was felt that there will always be sightings, for which complete data is lacking, that can only be explained with disproportionate effort and with a long time delay, if at all. The long delay in explaining a sighting tends to eliminate any intelligence value.

The educational or training program should have as a major purpose the elimination of popular feeling that every sighting, no matter how poor the data, must be explained in detail.

Attention should be directed to the requirement among scientists that a new phenomena, to be accepted, must be completely and convincingly documented. In other words, the burden of proof is on the sighter, not the explainer.

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POTENTIAL RELATED DANGERS

The Panel Members were in agreement with O/SI opinion that, although evidence of any direct threat from these sightings was wholly lacking, related dangers might well exist resulting from:

a. Misidentification of actual enemy artifacts by defense personnel.

b. Overloading of emergency reporting channels with “false” information (“noise to signal ratio” analogy – Berkner).

c. Subjectivity of public to mass hysteria and greater vulnerability to possible enemy psychological warfare.

Although not the concern of CIA, the first two of these problems may seriously affect the Air Defense intelligence system, and should be studied by experts, possibly under ADC. If U.F.O.’s become discredited in a reaction to the “flying saucer” scare, or if reporting channels are saturated with false and poorly documented reports, our capability of detecting hostile activity will be reduced.

Dr. Page noted that more competent screening or filtering of reported sightings at or near the source is required, and that this can best be accomplished by an educational program.

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS OF UNIDENTIFIED SIGHTINGS

The map prepared by ATIC showing geographic locations of officially reported unexplained sightings (1952 only) was examined by the Panel.

This map showed clusters in certain strategic areas such as Los Alamos. This might be explained on the basis of 24-hour watchful guard and

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awareness of security measures near such locations. On the other hand, there had been no sightings in the vicinity of sensitive related AE establishments while there were occasionally multiple cases of unexplained sightings in non-strategic areas. Furthermore, there appeared to be no logical relationship to population centers.

The Panel could find no ready explanation for these clusters. It was noted, however, that if terrestrial artifacts were to be observed it would be likely that they would be seen first near foreign areas rather than central U. S.

INSTRUMENTATION TO OBTAIN DATA

The Panel was of the opinion that the present ATIC program to place 100 inexpensive 35 mm. stereo cameras in the hands of various airport control tower operators would probably produce little valuable data related to U.F.O.’s. However, it was recognized that such action would tend to allay public concern in the subject until an educational program had taken effect. It was believed that procurement of these cameras was partly the result of public pressure in July 1952. With the poor results of the year-long Project TWINKLE program of 24-hours instrumentation watch (two frames of film showing nothing distinguishable), a widespread program of sky-watching would not be expected to yield much direct data of value.

There was considerable discussion of a possible “sky patrol” by amateur astronomers (Hynek) and by wide-angle cameras (Page). Dr. Page and Dr. Robertson pointed out that at present a considerable fraction

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of the sky is now – and has been for many years – under surveillance every clear night in several meteor and aurora observing programs as well as sky mapping programs at the various locations listed below. Although the attention of these astronomers is largely directed toward identified rather than unidentified objects, no case of any striking unidentified object is known to Dr. Page or Dr. Hynek. Such an object would most certainly be reported if found on patrol plates.

A case was cited where an astronomer refused to interrupt his exposure in order to photograph an alleged sighting in a different part of the sky. This led Dr. Hynek to say that, if a program of watching could be an adjunct of planned astronomical programs, little cost would be involved and that the trained astronomical personnel might photograph a sighting of an unidentified object.

The location of some of these programs and their directors are believed to be:

a. Harvard University, Cambridge and New Mexico (meteor patrol) – Whipple.

b. Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago and Fort Davis, Texas (several programs) – Meinel (auroras), Kuiper (asteroids), Morgan (wide angle camera).

c. University of Alaska, Fairbanks (aurorae) – Elvey

d. Dominion Observatory, Ottawa (meteors) – Millman

e. Palomar Observatory, California (sky map) – Minkowski

f. Lick Observatory, California (sky map) – Shane

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It was agreed by the Panel that no government-sponsored program of optical nation-wide sky patrol is worthwhile at the present time, and that the encouragement of amateur astronomers to undertake such a program might have the adverse effect of over-emphasizing “flying saucer” stories in the public mind. However, the issue of radar scope cameras for recording peculiar radar echoes would serve several purposes, including the better understanding of radar interference as well as identification of U.F.O.’s.

RADAR PROBLEM OF MUTUAL INTERFERENCE

This characteristic problem of radar operation wherein the pulse signal (of approximately the same frequency) from station A may be picked up on the screen of station B and show as a high-speed track or series of dots was recognized to have probably caused a number of U.F.O. reports.

This problem was underlined by information received indicating ADC concern in solving this problem of signal identification before service use of very high-speed aircraft or guided missiles (1955-1956). Dr. Berkner believed that one answer to this problem was the use of a “doppler filter” in the receiving circuit.

Dr. Alvarez suggested that the problem might be better solved by the use of a “controlled jitter” wherein the operator receiving “very fast tracks” (on the order of 1000- 10,000 m.p.h.) would operate a circuit which would alter slightly his station’s pulse frequency rate.

If the signal received on the screen had been caused by mutual interference with another station, the track would now show itself at a different distance

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from the center of the screen, if it still appeared at all. Dr. Alvarez felt such a technical solution was simpler and would cost much less than a “doppler filter.”

UNEXPLAINED COSMIC RAY PHENOMENA

Two reported cases were examined: one at Palomar Mountain, California, in October 1949, when cosmic ray counters went “off scale for a few seconds,” apparently while a “V” of flying saucers was observed visually; and two, a series of observations by the “Los Alamos Bird Watchers Association” from August 1950 to January 1951, when cosmic ray coincidence counters behaved queerly. Circuit diagrams and records were available for the latter, and Dr. Alvarez was able quickly to point out that the recorded data were undoubtedly due to instrumental effects that would have been recognized as such by more experienced observers.

The implication that radioactive effects were correlated with unidentified flying objects in these two cases was, therefore, rejected by the Panel.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

The Panel’s concept of a broad educational program integrating efforts of all concerned agencies was that it should have two major aims: training and “debunking.” The training aim would result in proper recognition of unusually illuminated objects (e.g., balloons, aircraft reflections) as well as natural phenomena (meteors, fireballs, mirages, noctilucent clouds). Both visual and radar recognition are concerned. There would be many

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levels in such education from enlisted personnel to command and research personnel.

Relative emphasis and degree of explanation of different programs would correspond to the categories of duty (e.g., radar operators; pilots; control tower operators; Ground Observer Corps personnel; and officers and enlisted men in other categories). This training should result in a marked reduction in reports caused by misidentification and resultant confusion.

The “debunking” aim would result in reduction in public interest in “flying saucers” which today evokes a strong psychological reaction. This education could be accomplished by mass media such as television, motion pictures, and popular articles. Basis of such education would be actual case histories which had been puzzling at first but later explained. As in the case of conjuring tricks, there is much less stimulation if the “secret” is known.

Such a program should tend to reduce the current gullibility of the public and consequently their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda. The Panel noted that the general absence of Russian propaganda based on a subject with so many obvious possibilities for exploitation might indicate a possible Russian official policy.

Members of the Panel had various suggestions related to the planning of such an educational program. It was felt strongly that psychologists familiar with mass psychology should advise on the nature and extent of the program. In this connection, Dr. Hadley Cantril (Princeton University) was suggested. Cantril authored “Invasion from

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Mars,” (a study in the psychology of panic, written about the famous Orson Welles radio broadcast in 1938) and has since performed advanced laboratory studies in the field of perception.

The names of Don Marquis (University of Michigan) and Leo Roston were mentioned as possibly suitable as consultant psychologists. Also, someone familiar with mass communications techniques, perhaps an advertising expert, would be helpful. Arthur Godfrey was mentioned as possibly a valuable channel of communication reaching a mass audience of certain levels. Dr. Berkner suggested the U. S. Navy (ONR) Special Devices Center, Sands Point, L. I., as a potentially valuable organization to assist in such an educational program.

The teaching techniques used by this agency for aircraft identification during the past war was cited as an example of a similar educational task. The Jam Handy Co. which made World War II training films (motion picture and slide strips) was also suggested, as well as Walt Disney, Inc. animated cartoons. Dr. Hynek suggested that the amateur astronomers in the U. S. might be a potential source of enthusiastic talent “to spread the gospel.”

It was believed that business clubs, high schools, colleges, and television stations would all be pleased to cooperate in the showing of documentary type motion pictures if prepared in an interesting manner. The use of true cases showing first the “mystery” and then the “explanation” would be forceful.

To plan and execute such a program, the Panel believed was no mean task. The current investigatory group at ATIC would, of necessity, have to be closely integrated for support with respect to not only the

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historical cases but the current ones.

Recent cases are probably much more susceptible to explanation than older ones; first, because of ATIC’s experience and, secondly, their knowledge of most plausible explanations. The Panel believed that some expansion of the ATIC effort would certainly be required to support such a program. It was believed inappropriate to state exactly how large a Table of Organization would be required.

Captain Ruppelt of ATIC unofficially proposed, for purposes of analyzing and evaluating reports:

a. An analysts’ panel of four officers

b. Four officer investigators

c. A briefing officer

d. An ADC liaison officer

e. A weather and balloon data officer

f. An astronomical consultant

g. A group Leader, with administrative assistant, file clerks and stenographers.

This proposal met with generally favorable comment.

The Panel believed that, with ATIC’s support, the educational pro gram of “training and debunking” outlined above might be required for a minimum of one and one-half to two years. At the end of this time, the dangers related to “flying saucers” should have been greatly reduced if not eliminated. Cooperation from other military services and agencies concerned (e.g., Federal Civil Defense Administration) would be a necessity.

In investigating significant cases (such as the Trementon, Utah, sighting controlled experiments might be required. An example

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would be the photographing of “pillow balloons” at different distances under similar weather conditions at the site.

The help of one or two psychologists and writers and a subcontractor to produce training films would be necessary in addition. The Panel considered that ATIC’s efforts, temporarily expanded as necessary, could be most useful in implementing any action taken as a result of its recommendations. Experience and records in ATIC would be of value in both the public educational and service training program envisaged.

Dr. Robertson at least was of the opinion that after public gullibility lessened and the service organizations, such as ADC, had been trained to sift out the more readily explained spurious sightings, there would still be a role for a very modest-sized ATIC section to cope with the residuum of items of possible scientific intelligence value.

This section should concentrate on energetically following up (perhaps on the advice of qualified Air Force Scientific Advisory Board members) those cases which seemed to indicate the evidence of unconventional enemy artifacts. Reports of such artifacts would be expected to arise mainly from Western outposts in far closer proximity to the Iron Curtain than Lubbock, Texas!

UNOFFICIAL INVESTIGATING GROUPS

The Panel took cognizance of the existence of such groups as the “Civilian Flying Saucer Investigators” (Los Angeles) and the “Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (Wisconsin). It was believed that such organizations should be watched because of their potentially

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great influence on mass thinking if widespread sightings should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind.

INCREASE IN NUMBER OF SIGHTINGS

The consensus of the Panel was, based upon the history of the subject, that the number of sightings could be reasonably expected to increase again this summer.

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TAB A
REPORT OF THE SCIENTIFIC PANEL
ON JAN 17 1953
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

1. Pursuant to the request of the Assistant Director for Scientific Intelligence, the undersigned Panel of Scientific Consultants has met to evaluate any possible threat to national security posed by Unidentified Flying Objects (“Flying Saucers”), and to make recommendations thereon. The Panel has received the evidence as presented by cognizant intelligence agencies, primarily the Air Technical Intelligence Center, and has reviewed a selection of the best documented incidents.

2. As a result of its considerations, the Panel _concludes_:

a. That the evidence presented on Unidentified Flying Objects shows no indication that these phenomena constitute a direct physical threat to national security.

We firmly believe that there is no residuum of cases which indicates Phenomena which are attributable to foreign artifacts capable of hostile acts, and that there is no evidence that the phenomena indicates a need for the revision of current scientific concepts.

3. The Panel further _concludes_:

a. That the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic.

We cite as examples the clogging of channels of communication by irrelevant reports, the danger of being led by continued false alarms to ignore real

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indications of hostile action, and the cultivation of a morbid national psychology in which skillful hostile propaganda could induce hysterical behavior and harmful distrust of duty constituted authority.

4. In order most effectively to strengthen the national facilities for the timely recognition and the appropriate handling of true indications of hostile action, and to minimize the concomitant dangers alluded to above, the Panel recommends:

a. That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired;

b. That the national security agencies institute policies on intelligence, training, and public education designed to prepare the material defenses and the morale of the country to recognize most promptly and to react most effectively to true indications of hostile intent or action.

We suggest that these aims may be achieved by an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of Inimical forces behind the phenomenon, to train personnel to recognize and reject false indications quickly and effectively, and to strengthen regular channels for the evaluation of and prompt reaction to true indications of hostile measures.

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SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL ON

UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

14 – 17 January 1953

EVIDENCE PRESENTED

1. Seventy-five case histories of sightings 1951-1952 (selected by ATIC as those best documented).

2. ATIC Status and Progress Reports of Project GRUDGE and Project BLUE BOOK (code names for ATIC study of subject).

3. Progress Reports of Project STORK (code name for Battelle Memorial Institute contract work supporting ATIC).

4. Summary Report of Sightings at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

5. Report of USAF Research Center, Cambridge, Mass., Investigation of “Green Fireball” Phenomena (Project TWINKLE).

6. Outline of Investigation of U.F.O.’s Proposed by Kirtland Air Force Base (Project POUNCE).

7. Motion Picture Films of sightings at Tremonton, Utah, 2 July 1952 and Great Falls, Montana, August 1950.

8. Summary Report of 89 selected cases of sightings of various categories (Formations, Blinking Lights, Hovering, etc.).

9. Draft of manual: “How to Make a FLYOBRPT,” prepared at ATIC.

10. Chart Showing Plot of Geographic Location of Unexplained Sightings in the United States during 1952.

11. Chart Showing Balloon Launching Sites in the United States.

12. Charts Showing Selected Actual Balloon Flight Paths and Relation to Reported Sightings.

13. Charts Showing Frequency of Reports of Sightings, 1948 – 1952.

14. Charts Showing Categories of Explanations of Sightings.

15. Kodachrome Transparencies of Polyethylene Film Balloons in Bright Sunlight Showing High Reflectivity.

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16. Motion picture of seagulls in bright sunlight showing high reflectivity.

17. Intelligence Reports Relating to U.S.S.R. Interest in U.S. Sightings.

18. Samples of Official USAF Reporting Forms and Copies of Pertinent Air Force, Army and Navy Orders Relating to Subject.

19. Sample Polyethylene “Pillow” Balloon (54 inches square).

20. “Variations in Radar Coverage,” JANP 101 (Manual illustrating unusual operating characteristics of Service radar).

21. Miscellaneous official letters and foreign intelligence reports dealing with subject.

22. Copies of popular published works dealing with subject (articles in periodicals, newspaper clippings and books).

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SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PANEL ON

UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

14 – 17 January 1953

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS

INTERVIEWEES

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