Thursday, February 27, 2014

Project Blue Book, the RB-47 and Moon Dust

 Yes, I put Project Blue Book, RB-47, and Moon Dust in the title and story because it is a good draw to the blog, but also because all these things are related in a way. I’ve been looking into the RB-47 case and this resulted in a review of the material that can be found in the Project Blue Book files.

What I found strange was that Project Blue Book files about the RB-47 case contained two long documents that were written in 1971, or some 18 months to two years after Blue Book was officially closed. One was the long analysis written by Dr. James McDonald and the other was a rebuttal of sorts, written by Philip Klass. The project card, which identified the source of the UFO report as American Airlines Flight No. 655, carried a note to refer to McDonald’s report. A letter, contained in the file and dated January 1972 mentioned that a copy of Klass’ document was being sent on to the Project Blue Book Case File. So, in the years that followed the end of Blue Book, material was still being added to it.

That might not be a bad thing and as near as I can tell, both documents seemed to have been added with almost no comment. This makes the file a better resource, but then, what else in the Blue Book Files has been altered over the years?

I do know that while Blue Book was in operation that files were removed. Prior to Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of June 24, 1947, there had been other UFO reports. One of those was from meteorologists in Virginia in April 1947. There is no case file in Blue Book but there had been something about it at one point. In the Final Report on Project Grudge, these sightings were mentioned. All this means is that the Blue Book files were altered while the project was in operation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except when they were taking material out never to be seen again.

In the RB-47 case, there are contradictions that were not resolved by the Air Force investigators which demonstrate the level of concern for the truth they displayed in 1957. According to the interview with Major Lewis Chase, the pilot of the RB-47, the ground radar station known as UTAH (Duncanville, Texas), a CIRVIS report, as required by regulations, was made of the radar sighting of a UFO. However, a TELEX in the files seems to show that no such report was made. Although the TELEX has been redacted, after a fashion, and the statement about the radar sighting is somewhat obscured, it seems to prove that no ground radar sighting was made at UTAH.

But the question is if the two statements are mutually exclusive. Chase referred specifically to a CIRVIS report and was told that one had been filed. The TELEX doesn’t mention CIRVIS, only that the ground-based radar didn’t track the UFO. To this point I have been unable to find a CIRVIS report, which probably means that one was not filed. That question, though, remains unanswered and I continue the search.

Finally, as mentioned before, as I was searching for other things in the Blue Book files, I found references to Moon Dust. This demonstrates that Moon Dust did have a UFO component and that it was used in some cases for UFO research. All the cases I have located can be explained in the mundane or are of observations that were so fleeting and so vague to be nearly useless. There are a few references, just four or five that I have found and that is all. These cases take place just a couple of years after the RB-47 sighting. In other words, Moon Dust cases did, for a short period, find their way to Blue Book but after those few months, nothing else is mentioned, as far as I can find now.

This just proves that after all these years since the Project Blue Book files made their way into the public arena, there are still nuggets to be found. There are more than 12,000 cases in the files, and thousands of pages of other documents, reports, memos, directives, and administrative materials. Even after more than thirty years, they haven’t been fully researched.

Oh, and just to be clear on this, I don’t see anything nefarious in the additions of the McDonald and Klass documents to the files, only that it is curious.


David Rudiak said...

Missing Blue Book documentation, either never added or removed, recently came up in the recent kerfluffle here over the Newhouse/Tremonton UFO film. BB documents said a local intelligence officer from Hamilton Field (San Francisco area) was sent out to interview Newhouse and family (thus four eyewitnesses interviewed), but the transcript of the interviews either never made it into BB files or was deliberately removed.

According to Ruppelt's book, when he spoke to Newhouse 2-3 years later while the documentary "UFO" was being made, Newhouse told him that they had unambiguously seen metallic saucers when the objects were closer, but that explicit description never appeared anywhere in surviving documents. Newhouse added that he had told the interviewer this and had even seen it in the transcript of his interview. So where's the transcript? And what about the rest of the Newhouses?

Instead all we have is a more ambiguous description in a short telex summary of the interview saying the objects were about equally long as wide AND thin, a possible disc or saucer shape without using the dreaded words. It was also added that Newhouse thought the light was reflected sunlight, not innate luminosity, suggesting a possible metallic, mirror-like reflection (since the film did indeed show overexposed bright objects). But again, mention of a possible brightly reflecting metallic surface wasn't made explicit in the short summary writeup.

In the recreation of that interview in the documentary, Newhouse DID make it explicit that the objects appeared to be metallic saucers. Who wrote the script? Did Newhouse contribute, or was it based on MGM having access to the actual transcript Newhouse said was made but which the public has never seen?

This open-endedness and lack of precision in the surviving AF summary of that interview left Newhouse open to charges in the Condon report and even today (by we all know who) that Newhouse originally never described metallic saucers. This despite telling Ruppelt about 2 years later, saying it on camera in the documentary at about the same time, and both he and his wife telling Dr. James McDonald the same thing in a phone interview some years later.

Also missing is the SECOND AF analysis that claimed (according to another summary) that frames showed seagulls. Why isn't that in there? (The original AF analysis instead said too bright to be birds, as did a Navy photoanalysis.)

Nick Mariana, who also made a famous UFO movie in 1950, complained that when BB sent back his original film, they had snipped out the first 30 frames or so that Mariana claimed showed the objects rotating, before the two bright objects receded into the distance.

Hynek also complained that files of some really good cases that should have been in BB files seem to have been deliberately removed or never added. At any rate, when he went looking for them, they weren't there.

Kevin has also written about documents from the 1950s showing that better cases were typically NOT made part of the Blue Books system but sent to another unit (4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron or AISS) set up after the CIA's 1953 Robertson Panel, which filtered the UFO reports for National Security significance and sent only lesser ones on to Blue Book. (Exceptions might occur for highly publicized cases which couldn't be hidden, such as Socorro.) Projects such as "Moon Dust", or retrieval of any "foreign" debris from space, were likewise outside of Blue Book and highly classified.

But to bring this all up (removal of important evidence from BB) gets one automatically tagged as a "conspiracist," even though insiders admitted to it and documents back them up. (I can hear our resident debunkers tapping out their knee-jerk "C" word before I can even complete this sentence.)

Lance said...

I more or less agree with David's accounting of Newhouse above. It's not really clear how Newhouse was interviewed or if perhaps if only a list of supplementary questions was asked of him since he sent the film in with his written account of the sighting.

The file also mentions film taken elsewhere of birds that looks similar to the Newhouse footage. But it is not present.

As has been mentioned before, there was disagreement about the brightness claims in that first analysis and apparent agreement that it may have been done incorrectly.

Also, all analyses were done from dupes of the original..there are so many possibilities of changing things like brightness (in fact particularly brightness) while making dupes that any info should be prudently suspected.

One thing not mentioned here previously (I am writing a piece for my blog on this) is that Newhouse was actually given 2 copies of the film not one. He never complained about missing footage either time.


cda said...


Forgive my ignorance but what exactly was 'Moon Dust'?

Had it anything to do with UFOs?
Had it anything to do with either dust (i.e. space dust) or the moon?

Why is 'Moon Dust' occasionally brought up by some ufologists when officially it either did not exist or had nothing to do with UFOs?

I await enlightenment.

Larry said...


You can read Kevin's previous explanation of this at:

In general, Moon Dust was the term for any unidentified recovered materials that appeared to have arrived on the ground by falling from space more or less without regard to presumed origin. In other words, it could be the remains of a Soviet or US booster or the remains of a crashed flying saucer. If it could be found, packaged up, and sent to the Air Force, they would try to determine what it was and what its origin was.

Steve Sawyer said...

Kevin, I look forward to your analysis / blog post about the 1957 RB-47 UAP incident itself.

That's a case that's always intrigued me.

Steve Sawyer said...

Also, your stress on going back to as many and the earliest original source materials / documentation is very pertinent, critical even, for all UFO investigators conducting proper "due diligence" phenomenological research.

It's sort of amazing how many UFO books, articles, and online references use derivative, second and third-hand sourcing, which most often leads to distortion and... disinfotainment.

KRandle said...


Thank you for the opportunity to plug my book due out in May (in both paper and electrons meaning on Kindle and the like) The Government UFO Files, in which I discuss Moon Dust and some of the things that I have found in the last several years.

One of those is that I can pinpoint the date to greater accuracy than before having found an official document that references the new program. It began not long after the Soviets put up their first satellite.

Many of the Moon Dust documents come from the Department of State, the code name, Moon Dust, is in the headings and many of those documents relate to UFOs. As I have mentioned on this blog, and will detail in the book, I found several cases in the Blue Book files that mention Moon Dust. If you look at that posting, you'll see how I stumbled across this.

So Moon Dust existed as the documentation proves, even though the Air Force denied it officially until caught in the lie. It had a UFO component as the documents from Blue Book and the State Department prove, and it was used to investigate the retrieval of objects that fell and were of unknown origin.

Say what you will, but the documents have a provenance, they can be retrieved by others (Robert Todd might have gotten the first batch, Cliff Stone got a batch and by the time I FOIAed them the batch I received was smaller, but none the less mentioned Moon Dust and UFOs, and we were told that it was a classified project.

And yes, my new book will have additional revelations about Moon Dust. Thanks again for the opportunity to promote the book.

Woody said...

Hi Kevin.
It was your habit of having a good look at the available material evidence and information that first impressed me. For a few years I bought the occasional UFO crash book to get my 'hit' of hard-core, pulp ufology. Your book 'A History of UFO Crashes' was the first of these. Your introduction in that book had a profound effect on my young and still-to-become scientific mind. Your talk of evidence and how an investigator, researcher or reviewer must base his or her conclusions ONLY on that evidence, while describing the difference between good and bad evidence.
You were one of those responsible for steering me toward the field of critical thinking, which I have embraced along with many other good scientific habits since then.
Only 'UFO - the complete sightings catalogue' and 'UFO - the government files', both by Peter Brookesmith, affected me as much as that one introduction, thank you Kevin.