Brief Chronology of UFO History


Non-aggressive “Foo-fighters” reported buzzing and flying formation with Allied combat airplanes in European and Pacific Theaters of War. Suggestions that they were Axis air weapons were found unconvincing.


Of 1500+ “ghost rockets” reported from Sweden and neighboring countries, most flew slowly, quietly and level. Attempts to blame Soviet rocket and missile tests from Peenemunde failed.


First major American wave of “flying disc” sightings started with formation of ovals seen weaving through the Cascade Mountains of Washington State at 1700 mph by businessman/pilot Kenneth Arnold. Ground observers reported seeing formations of discs at same time and place. More than 1500 reports of daylight sightings in newspapers.

Official report of crashed flying disc recovered near Roswell, New Mexico, quickly explained by Army Air Forces as weather balloon, despite later witness descriptions of unusually light and strong materials.

First preliminary study by U. S. Army Air Forces Intelligence of a dozen flying disc sightings concludes: “Something is really flying around”.


Air National Guard fighter pilot Thomas Mantell dies during attempted intercept of UFO over Kentucky.

U.S. Air Force establishes Project Sign as first long-term, official UFO investigation.

Project Sign staff report on alien origin of UFOs is rejected by USAF Chief Hoyt Vandenberg due to lack of physical evidence.


Project Grudge replaces Project Sign.

Government conference on rash of large, brilliant green fireballs leads to 1950’s Project Twinkle, which allegedly failed to track and photograph any.

True Magazine publication of Donald Keyhoe’s article is first in major magazine to claim UFOs are alien craft, and that the U.S. Government is withholding confirming information.


First UFO books published by investigative reporter Keyhoe (elaboration of his magazine article) and Hollywood gossip columnist Frank Scully (poorly-supported tale of crashed saucer and little men).


Project Blue Book replaces Project Grudge.

Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) becomes first long-term private UFO association.

Second major American sighting wave centered on Washington, D.C.; many radar/visual sightings quietly admitted by Air Force to be unexplained.


CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel of scientists concludes UFOs are probably all mistakes.

Harvard astronomer Donald Menzel becomes highly vocal spokesman for those opposed to study of UFOs.

George Adamski emerges as leading “contactee”, claiming to have traveled to unknown worlds with benevolent spacemen.


U.S. Air Force releases Project Blue Book Special Report #14, the first of several major reports in which the negative summary is contradicted by positive elements in the text.


National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) becomes first private UFO group with a Washington office.


Third American UFO wave highlighted by electrical interference reports around Levelland, Texas. Air Force blames all the car stoppings on an intense electrical storm, even though the night was clear.


Report of landed UFO with nearby crew by Socorro, New Mexico, policeman is first “Close Encounter of the 3rd Kind” to attract national attention and the only one to be labeled “unexplained” by Project Blue Book.

NICAP’s “The UFO Evidence” is first scientifically-based study of UFOs, analyzing 750 cases having high “strangeness” and “credibility” ratings.


Sighting of landed UFO in Dexter, Michigan, is explained by Project Blue Book as “swamp gas”, producing long-term public ridicule.

House Armed Services Committee hears USAF suggest university study of UFOs, which is accepted by University of Colorado, under Dr. E. U. Condon.

Story of “alien abduction” of New England couple published as first convincing case of “face-to-face” meetings with aliens.

Phillip Klass, of Aviation Week magazine, proposes (then quietly withdraws) ball lightning as explanation for many UFO reports.


American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) establishes UFO subcommittee.

Wesleyan University offers first credit course on UFOs.

Soviet TV announcement reveals short-lived non-governmental UFO group.


House Science & Astronautics Committee holds one-day UFO symposium.

NICAP publishes series of once-classified Blue Book status reports, proving unclassified UFO information had long been withheld from public.


Final report of University of Colorado UFO study combines negative summary with positive portions of text.

U.S. Air Force uses University of Colorado report as basis for closing Project Blue Book.

Air Force scientist quantifies temperature inversions, concluding that few, if any, UFO sightings are caused by mirages.

Annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) includes UFO session despite strenuous objections from Donald Menzel.

Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) established by Walter Andrus to stress field investigations.


Last (so far) wide-spread American UFO wave highlighted by abduction of two fishermen in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Center for UFO Studies established by disillusioned former USAF consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek.


Project Blue Book case files made available to the public at the National Archives, though names of all witnesses were censored.


Amended Freedom of Information Act opens door to some previously classified UFO documents, but to almost none classified Top Secret or higher.

Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) formed to attack promoters of what it considers anti-science.


First witnesses to 1947 Roswell crash are interviewed, including ex-Intelligence officer Jesse Marcel who handled wreckage.


Fund for UFO Research incorporated by Richard Hall, Tom Deuley,


Study of eight “alien abductees” by clinical psychologist is published by Fund for UFO Research, revealing lack of mental problems that might explain their stories.


Publication of best-selling books by Whitley Streiber (“Communion”) and Budd Hopkins (“Intruders”) ignites world-wide interest in “alien abductions.”

Allegedly-official MJ-12 report describes recovery of crashed alien craft at Roswell in 1947, but remains highly controversial.


Poll by The Roper Organization suggests that as many as 4,000,000 adult Americans could be “alien abductees”.


Four-day conference on “alien abductions” held at Massachusetts Institute of Technology includes chairmen of university psychology departments and directors of mental health groups.


UFO Research Coalition formed by MUFON, CUFOS and Fund for UFO Research to manage joint programs.


Air Force announces that wreckage recovered near Roswell in 1947 was not a weather balloon, but was from then-secret Project Mogul cluster of weather balloons.

General Accounting Office investigation into Roswell crash concludes: “The debate over what crashed at Roswell continues.”


U.S. Air Force attempt to discount reports of small bodies found in conjunction with 1947 Roswell crash produces press backlash.

Rockefeller-sponsored conference of scientists nervously concludes UFOs are worthy of study.

Central Intelligence Agency claims thousands of UFO reports were caused by secret high-altitude spy planes, even though they couldn’t be seen from the ground.


Uncensored microfilms of Project Blue Book case files found at National Archives.

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