The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects: The Original 1956 Edition (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/3/31
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The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, written by Captain Edward Ruppelt in 1956, was the first serious, unbiased account written about UFOs by anyone connected with the official government investigations of UFO phenomena. Ruppelt, who coined the term "unidentified flying objects" and headed Project Blue Book from 1951 to 1953, includes his personal investigations and findings in his extensive research on UFOs. He discusses both well-publicized UFO sightings and lesser-known accounts, as well as the inner workings of Air Force UFO research. This edition is the original 1956 edition; in 1960 Ruppelt released a second edition which seemed to weaken his original views that some UFO reports could not be explained, and reinforce the Air Force's position that there was nothing mysterious about UFOs. EDWARD J. RUPPELT (1923-1960) was the head of Project Blue Book during the Korean War, from 1951-1953. He served at the Air Technical Intelligence Center, where he took over Project Grudge, a formal investigation by the U.S. military with the goal of debunking extraterrestrial and UFO activity. Under Ruppelt's supervision, the project, later named Blue Book, experienced its most fruitful years, when investigations were properly conducted without judgment or disdain. Many UFO researchers hail him as a pioneer of UFO research and hero in the fight to earn respectability for the field.
From 1951-1953 Ruppelt presided over a kind of "golden age" of UFO reports. Under his guidance Project Blue Book objectively and thoroughly investigated each UFO report it received. Ruppelt was naturally skeptical of UFOs, but he also didn't dismiss the subject as "nonsense", and he insisted that his staff take the phenomenon seriously and remain open-minded when they were investigating UFO cases. As a result he wasn't afraid to label a case as "unsolved" or "unexplainable" when he or his staff couldn't find a "normal", rational explanation for a sighting. Ruppelt managed to investigate some of the most famous UFO cases in history, including the "Lubbock Lights" in Texas, which were seen by science professors at Texas Tech University, and which were photographed by a Texas Tech student. He also investigated the two famous UFO "movies" shot in Utah and Montana on old home-movie cameras. The Montana film was shot in 1950 by the manager of the Great Falls minor-league baseball team, and it showed two bright objects moving rapidly across the sky above the local baseball stadium. The Utah film was shot in 1952 near the Great Salt Lake by a professional Navy photographer. The film shows 12-15 bright objects (which bear a remarkable resemblance to the Montana film) flying in formation in the clear blue sky. The US Navy analyzed both films and, as Ruppelt writes, they judged that both films showed "genuine" UFOs - not birds, not planes, nor any other "normal" phenomena. Ruppelt also investigated the great "Invasion of Washington" in July 1952 when UFOs were seen above the nation's capital and were detected by radar at two airports in Washington. (The "Invasion of Washington" made front-page headlines across the country, and even President Truman called Ruppelt personally and wanted to know what was going on).
Ruppelt left the Air Force in 1953 for a civilian engineering job, and in 1956 - much to the displeasure of the Air Force, which had forced Project Blue Book to return to debunking all UFO sightings - he wrote "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects". This book is still considered to be the "classic" account of UFO sightings in the late forties and early fifties, and it also provides a wealth of information about how the US government and military viewed the UFO "problem" during those years. Ruppelt is a good writer, and the book is well-written and filled with many interesting stories and anecdotes from pilots, scientists, military officials and others whom Ruppelt talked with about UFOs. Ruppelt himself was an "open-minded skeptic" and he doesn't include any explanations for what UFOs might be - he simply describes his investigations into the subject and his experiences as Project Blue Book's supervisor. I should add that in 1960 an "enlarged and updated" edition of this book was published with three additional chapters written by Ruppelt. In these new chapters Ruppelt is far more critical of the UFO phenomenon than he was in the original 1956 edition, and basically states that all UFO sightings are explainable in conventional terms. Needless to say, this "revised" 1960 edition caused considerable controversy when it was published, with some critics claiming that the Air Force pressured Ruppelt into adding the three new chapters. Others claim that Ruppelt's investigation of the weird New Age "contactee" UFO movement in California soured him on the entire UFO phenomenon; at any rate, I would recommend buying the original, "unrevised" 1956 edition for a better (and possibly more accurate) view of Ruppelt's experiences as the Air Force's chief UFO investigator. This book is an absolute "must" for any UFO buff or anyone who's interested in the early history of UFO sightings in America. Highly recommended
Unfortunately, the author became disillusioned by the hoaxers who were cashing in on the subject, and it led him to write the final chapter years after the original publication, which seemed to be written by a now cynical and frustrated individual. While this does detract from the main body of the book, it doesn't erase the invaluable inside account of how the military handled this investigation, and it does explain how something that looks like a coverup to some is really a failed investigation due to underfunding, ignorance, and poor leadership.
But Edward J. Ruppelt's _The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects_ (1956, 1960) is that rare thing, a _respectable_ account of the U.F.O. phenomena, and it remains something of a classic today. It will not please sensation-seeking flying saucer nuts-- it is much too rational and sober-- and it did not initially please Air Force officials who wanted all UFOs neatly explained away. but it does represent the results of solid, honest investigation.
First, a bit of background. The Air Force had a series of projects supposed to be officially investigating UFOs: Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book. Project Sign investigators were over ready to assign all UFO. reports to be extraterrestrial in origin. Early Project Grudge investigators bent over backwards to find non-saucer explanations-- some of them almost as bizarre as the saucer interpretations. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt was director of Projects Grudge and Bluebook from 1951 to 1953. Ruppelt was tempermentally skeptical, but he insisted on a thorough investigation of many of the reports and sightings.
_The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects_ is as close to an official, insider's view of the critical years of Project Blue Book that we are likely to have. But there are two different versions of the book. In the earlier, 1956 version, Ruppelt concludes that while _most_ UFOs can be accounted for in terms of named causes (such as airplanes, planets, lights, weather balloons, or hoaxes), about 27% are still "of unknown origin". This leaves the door open for a few of them to be extraterrestrial. But in the 1960 edition, which adds three chapters, Ruppelt flatly concludes that the notion that UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin is a "myth". Saucer believers tend to ignore the 1960 version, but I really don't see how we can. Ruppelt swung to the skeptical side, not because he was "pressured" by Air Force Brass, but simply because there was _no positive evidence in four years to support flying saucers_.
It must be said that Ruppelt was becoming increasingly disenchanted with various saucer writers as well. He criticized Donald Keyhoe, the author of several bestselling books on flying saucers:
To say the book [_Flying Saucers from Outer Space_] is factual depends entirely on how one uses the word. The details of the specific UFO sightings that he credits to the Air Force are factual, but in his interpretation of the incidents he blasts way out into the wild blue yonder. (chapter 17)
As time went on, so did the number of reports from flying saucer nuts:
Many inquiries come from saucer screwballs and these people are like a hypochondriac at the doctor's, nothing will make them believe the diagnosis unless it is what they came to hear. And there are plenty of screwballs.
One officer summed it up neatly when he told me, "It isn't the UFO's that give us trouble, it's the people." (chapter 16)
But the bulk of the book is loaded with anecdotal case studies that make absolutely fascinating reading. Of course, Ruppelt starts with the case that started it all-- that of private pilot Kenneth Arnold, who spotted several "disc-shaped"craft flying over Mt. Ranier in 1947. Putting aside controversies about what Arnold actually said over the radio, Ruppelt is convinced that he did see actual aircraft (as opposed to sunspots or snow formations). Another early case was that of two Air Force colonels who spotted three objects in "V formation" while flying over the Carson Sink, Nevada area in 1952. They reported their findings in Colorado Springs, Nevada. (This one stuck in my mind because I have relatives in Colorado Springs.) And during 1946 and later in 1948, there were reports of "ghost rockets" of various shapes and colors appearing in many different countries around the world.
In chapter two, Ruppelt spins out a story about crashed UFOs and two men known as "Jackson" and "Richards" and a Close Encounter on an island in 1947. Ruppelt piles on the details, and just when you think that you have encountered a real-life scenario out of _The X-Files_... Ruppelt jerks the rug out from under your feet. It was all a hoax cooked up by a couple of scoundrels who had just enough raw material to fake a UFO crash and some vivid imaginations. They were quickly exposed, and they faded off into the sunset.
Ruppelt gives detailed attention to two "classic" UFO cases-- those of pilot Captain Mantrell of Kentucky, who was killed chasing down a UFO, and those of the famed "Lubbuck Lights" of Texas. Ruppelt does not interpret either case in the boogga-boogga manner that most saucer believers like. He believes that Mantell _could_ have been pursuing a skyhook balloon-- there was one just released from Tennessee at that time. But that we will never know for sure. Ruppelt rejects explanations involving extraterrestrial spacecraft or notions that Mantell was chasing down an image of Venus. As for the phenomenon of the Lubbock lights, well-witnessed over a long period of time by a lot of observant witnesses-- Ruppert does not give a solid conclusion to the mystery. but he rules out extraterrestrial space craft.
In chapter four, Ruppelt gives attention to some spectacular bursts of light that appeared over parts of Mexico and the American southwest. They did not leave any trace of meteorite debris where they appeared. They always seemed to be the same shade of green. They were thoroughly investigated by some of the top scientists in America-- some of whom were eyewitnesses to the lights.But in the end, no solution to the mystery was found. One person suggested a "duck hunter" approach-- set up several observational "blinds" with permanent observers and cameras in places where the lights were likely to appear. This is sound in theory-- but awesomely expensive in practice.
Other cases include the case of the Florida encounter with the scoutmaster that could be real... or a fraud, the case of the rise in radiation that coincided with a UFO sighting, and the massive numbers of UFOs that were sighted over Washington, DC and had President Truman calling him to ask what was going on. But Ruppelt says that there is always the persistent problem of perception. When one person says that they have seen a UFO, all critical thought goes out the window. Nobody asks if it could be anything else
In one instance I traveled halfway across the United States to investigate a report made by a high ranking man in the State Department. An experienced observer. It was evening by the time I got to talk to him and he'd excitedly told me all the pertinent facts, how this bright light had "jumped across the sky," he said, "Want to see it? It's still there, but it's not jumping now."
We went outside and there was Jupiter. (chapter twenty)
In a review of _The Report..._, Anthony Boucher praised the book but predicted: "Ruppelt is almost completely successful in maintaining a neutral attitude which will exasperate both 'pro' and 'anti-saucer' factions in and out of the USAF" (90). He was quite correct in this prediction. But I will tell you. There is something likeable about the voice of the author who speaks to us. It is sane, rational, humorous, clear-headed, and energetic. And he has a fascinating tale to tell. This is a book worth rereading today.
_References_: Boucher, Anthony. "Recommended Reading," _Fantasy and Science Fiction_, May, 1955, 74. For his review of Ruppelt, see "Recommended Reading," _F&SF_, May, 1956, 90-91.