Back in the olden days, while I was still in college and a member of Air Force ROTC, I learned that the Project Blue Book files were available for study and review at the Air Force Archives at the what was then called Maxwell Air Force Base. The announcement was made in an internal Air Force document, meaning, simply, that it was circulated inside the Air Force but not necessarily in the civilian world. It said that anyone who traveled to Alabama could see the material.
During those days I wrote articles for SAGA and its companion magazine, UFO REPORT. I called my editor there, who normally didn’t speak to me but had his secretary tell me to call back later. I mentioned that I could get into the Project Blue Book files. I didn’t say that anyone could, only that I had the opportunity. One of the senior editors called me back immediately, giving me an assignment and telling me what he would like to know.
I drove to Maxwell AFB with fellow writer and researcher Robert Charles Cornett (seen working on some of the files). We had no trouble getting onto the base because we were both members of the Air Force Reserve based on our status in AFROTC. In fact, we had a letter of introduction written by the detachment commander so they would know that we were members of the Air Force. We told the people there what we wanted but they hesitated, telling me that I had to request specific items from Blue Book, not just a vague desire to see the "files." I knew something about UFOs so requested specific files from Kinross and Levelland, for example. They just weren’t sure that they should be handing us this information.
After they had talked to a "Mr. Smith" in Washington, cooperation increased and we learned that there was an index, which we requested to see immediately. I never knew if they initiated the contact, or if, somehow, Mr. Smith knew we were there and wanted us to have what we needed. All I knew was that after this mysterious man talked to the archivists, they were happy to assist us in anyway they could.
They eventually told us about a master index to the sightings. This master index gave the dates of the sightings, location, names of the witnesses and the Air Force conclusion. Cornett and I went through the whole thing and copied the information of all the unidentifieds, most of the photo cases, landing trace cases, and anything else that struck us as important. I didn’t know how valuable that information would become later.
In the mid-1970s, Jack Webb decided to do a show called Project UFO (one of the actors and a producer for the show)for NBC. To assist him, the Air Force moved the Blue Book files to the National Archives (NARA... ever notice how everything is being reduced to letters because, I guess, it’s too difficult to say National Archives), where it was microfilmed. We have Jack Webb (seen below) to thank for that. Webb, as I understand it, paid the cost of the microfilming.
Over the years I have acquired a complete set of the Blue Book files on 94 rolls of microfilm. That collection is in no way unique. The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies has a complete set and I suspect MUFON does too. What makes all this interesting is that the National Archives has now put all of Project Blue Book on line at:
Then go to page three and scroll down. At the moment, you can search the files for free. I don’t know how long that will last.
These are high quality scans, for the most part and provide a glimpse into the Air Force handling of the UFO project. The problem is that before these files were released into the public arena, Air Force officers spent weeks going through them taking out the names of the witnesses. Oh, they did a terrible job of it. In the Arnold file, they went so far as to take Arnold’s initials out of a transcript of an interview with him, but left, scrawled in large letters on one page, "Arnold Sighting."
In other files, they took the names out of the Air Force generated reports, but left the names in newspaper articles that were filed with the reports. In other words, in some cases, you can put the names back in.
But remember, Cornett and I copied the names from so many of the case files that I, too, can put them back in. In fact, in Project Blue Book - Exposed, Appendix B is a listing of those cases, including the date and time, location and the witnesses, along with a brief description of the sighting. (Seen below, I'm working my way through some of the Blue Book material.)
For those who wish, I note, again, I have a limited number of the hardback copies of the book, Project Blue Book - Exposed, that originally sold for $22.95. For those interested in a copy, I would send it to you for just $10.00 plus shipping and handling of $5.00 (yeah, you have to pay the postage and for the envelop, but hey, you get the book for less than half price and if you tell me how you’d like it inscribed, why, I’d even sign it).
For those interested, send a check or money order to:
PO Box 10934
Cedar Rapids, IA 52410-0934