History’s Project Blue Book first season did not stick strictly to the real-life events that inspired the show, and that has caused some frustration among UFO buffs.
I can understand their feelings, being a UFO buff myself. However, besides bringing awareness to one of the most significant UFO investigators of all time, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the writers of the show also included a plethora of UFO Easter eggs throughout the show only UFO buffs would get. These tidbits allude to fascinating pieces of real-life UFO history.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Project Blue Book Episode 1: The Fuller Dogfight
Main character Dr. Allen J. Hynek really was a college astronomy professor who helped the Air Force investigate UFOs, although he thought the entire subject ridiculous when the investigations began. Eventually, he found the issue to be worthy of serious scientific study and continued science-based research into the UFO phenomenon long after Project Blue Book was closed.
Hynek said he also really did feel pressure to close cases without being allowed to conduct a thorough scientific investigation. Hynek says he began to resent the Air Force’s “negative and unyielding attitude” that “everything had to have an explanation.” He once lamented, “I was a thorough skeptic, and I’m afraid I helped to engender the idea that it must be nonsense; therefore it is nonsense.”
In the show, Hynek coins the term Unidentified Flying Object (UFO). Although the Air Force created the phrase at the beginning of Project Blue Book, the man who takes credit for it is Colonel Edward J. Ruppelt, Project Blue Book’s first chief.
Roswell is mentioned in this episode but the alleged crash of an alien spacecraft in 1947 outside of Roswell, New Mexico was only a story for a day or two when it happened. It was not a Project Blue Book case, and did not become popular until the late 1970s when a former USAF officer came forward claiming what crashed out there was not of this world. Read more about that here.
Project Blue Book Episode 2: The Flatwoods Monster
Indeed, in 1952 a group of people claimed to have seen a monster in the forest near Flatwoods. It started when two boys saw a pulsing red light crossing the sky. They ran to one of the boy’s home and got his mother. The group headed out to find where the object crashed and along the way picked up several more local adventurers, including one with a dog. Leading the group was Gene Lemon, a 17-year-old National Guard member. Through the mist in the forest Lemon spotted two lights that appeared to be eyes in a tree. When he focused the light on the eyes, he fell back in terror. According to a local newspaper, Lemon says he saw “a 10-foot monster with a blood-red body and a green face that seemed to glow.”
Seven people in the group claimed to have seen the monster. Some of them described the monster’s hands as having claws. Sketches were made based on witness accounts, and rather than appearing tree-like, as the illustrations in the show, the drawings depict more of a robot looking creature.
The Air Force concluded the fireball was just a meteor. The Project Blue Book files say they confirmed this with an astronomy club out of Ohio. As for the monster, although the Blue Book file does reference the case as the “West Virginia monster so called (sic),” it does not attempt to explain it. Skeptics did put forth the idea that it had to have been just an owl on a tree.
When it comes to the burns on the faces of the children, supposedly some had reported nausea, but nothing more severe. However, the burning of the kids’ eyes and the radiation traces in the forest are reminiscent of another UFO case.
In December 1980, Vickie Landrum, her grandson Colby Landrum, and their friend Betty Cash were driving home after eating out in Dayton, Texas. While driving on a deserted stretch of street in a dense forest, they claim to have come upon a large diamond-shaped object hovering over the road at tree level. The object had flames coming out of the bottom. The adults got out to take a better look. Vickie ended up getting back into the car to comfort her grandson who was terrified. They claim the vehicle then began to heat up. The metal was too hot to touch, and even the dashboard started to melt enough to where a handprint was left where it had been touched.
The witnesses claim the object then flew off and was pursued by helicopters. All of the witnesses suffered distressing health issues soon after. It began with nausea and burning eyes but turned into soars and hair loss. Cash, who had spent the most time out of the car, spent weeks in the hospital and lost patches of skin and clumps of hair.
The government denied having any helicopters in the area or a large diamond-shaped craft. This case occurred well after Project Blue Book was closed, and was not investigated by any government agency.
Project Blue Book Episode 3: The Lubbock Lights
The Lubbock Lights sightings took place mostly in August and September of 1951. The case was so baffling that Project Blue Book Chief Edward Ruppelt personally investigated them. Ruppelt also included an entire chapter to this investigation in his book The Report on Flying Saucers. It can be read in its entirety online.
Simply put, there were three major components: objects caught on radar, strange lights/objects observed by hundreds – often several times in one day, and one outlier report by a woman and her daughter who claim to have seen a pear-shaped metallic object flying around.
The radar report came from Larson Air Force Base on August 26 of an object observed on the radar for six minutes traveling at 900 miles per hour.
“Object was on a course of 340 deg with only slight deviations enroute (sic),” the Project Blue Book Report states. “[Altitude] 13,000 ft but accuracy of measurement questionable due to brief length time the object was detected. F-86 scrambled but radar contact with the object was lost before a/c were airborne (sic).”
Ruppelt says the submitter was curt and wanted him to know they absolutely ruled out weather interference. As Ruppelt covers in his book, Project Blue Book at this point was known for explaining away cases. Sure enough, the Advanced Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) still claimed the readings were likely weather interference. Ugh.
However, Project Blue Book closed the report of the pear-shaped object by the two women as “unidentified.” This was the designation for cases in which they really had no explanation and generally indicates the Air Force found the witnesses credible. In this case, the two women say they were driving in Matador, Texas, about 80 miles northwest of Lubbock, when they spotted a pear-shaped metal object “drifting” about 150 feet off the ground. It was August 31, just before 1 p.m. They estimated the object to be 40 feet long and 16 feet in diameter. They watched it for a short period. Then it accelerated up into the sky to the east. It was out of view in a few seconds.
The latter incident was much different than the bulk of the sightings. Most sightings were of groups of bright lights zipping through the night sky. They were not always in a v-formation, most often they were grouped randomly.
On the evening of August 25th, a young Lubbock resident waiting up to see the lights everyone was talking about was kept an eye on the night sky. He saw the lights and rushed outside with his camera, but the lights were gone. Fortunately, they returned, and he snapped a couple of pictures. The objects then came back again, and he got a few more shots. The photos made it into the local newspaper, and it is one of these images, or a reproduction of it, that History used in the Lubbock Lights Project Blue Book episode. The lights in the show also looked just like the v-formation in the images.
There was one particular group of witnesses Ruppelt especially appreciated, a group of professors from Texas Technical College. One evening four professor of various disciplines were sitting around outside drinking tea when they saw the lights several times. Their sightings triggered an investigation by them and other colleagues who were interested in the mystery or were witnesses themselves.
They were able to discover the lights flew north to south, and they appeared at about 45 degrees off the northern horizon and disappeared at about 45 degrees off the southern horizon. This calculation could give them an estimate of the speed of the objects, but they could not determine how far the objects were or how large. The group never did figure out the secret of the mystery.
Another witness claimed to have more luck. He said he discovered they were Plovers. He said he saw the lights and admittedly got excited but then was able to determine they were indeed just Plovers reflecting light from the town. However, Ruppelt did not believe Plovers could explain the entire phenomenon. One reason being Plovers only fly in pairs or small groups, not large groups like in the photos or the large groups of lights witnesses reported. Another was that two of the Lubbock Lights encounters were during the day, and in both cases, the witnesses reported seeing a silent flying wing craft fly above them with rows of lights along the wings, which would appear as V-shaped lights viewed at night. Ruppelt’s investigation showed it was highly unlikely these were human-made craft.
In his book, Ruppelt said the case was baffling, and he could not come up with an answer. However, he says an anonymous scientist did. Ruppelt says he promised not to divulge the identity of this scientist, and in sharing how the scientist made the discovery and what the revelation was he would be exposing the scientist’s identity, so he can not say. Talk about a letdown.
Further, just like in the show, the Air Force decided to close the case with the Plover explanation. The real Lubbock Lights case did not include effects to vehicles, like in the program. However, UFO witnesses have reported this sort of thing before. One of the most baffling was a case in November 2009 in which a witness’ car stopped during a sighting of a cigar-shaped object above his head. After the encounter, investigators discovered the car was emitting an unusually strong magnetic field. They guy was so freaked out by it he sold the car. Ruppelt’s book leaves one with the impression that the Air Force was as baffled by these cases as everyone else. In History’s Project Blue Book, as in UFO mythology, the Air Force knows much more than it is sharing.
Project Blue Book Episode 4: Operation Paperclip
Huntsville is a city built by rockets. It is the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Center, but before NASA was created, the military had been testing missiles in the area since World War II. After the war ended, rocket testing continued. Operation Paperclip was real, and Werner von Braun was a real rocket scientist brought to the U.S. The U.S. first brought the German rocket scientists to Fort Bliss, Texas, but in the ‘50s, von Braun and his team were moved to Huntsville.
Von Braun’s popularity was primarily due to his involvement in the development of the V-2 rocket. This rocket terrified the allies during the war because it was the first ballistic missile. While the space program was a real thing, the real importance to the military was the development of bigger and better rockets. Especially with the prospect that a ballistic missile would be the ideal delivery system for the newly developed atom bomb.
In UFO circles, there have been many rumors about von Braun. From the belief that he had to be in the know regarding alleged crashes of alien spacecraft such as Roswell, to a rumor that he knew the government was faking emergencies to distract the public and that one day a UFO scare would be used for that purpose.
The Nazi’s also have a UFO history according to many conspiracy theories. It is believed they communicated with aliens and were able to develop technologies based off of alien technology. You can even find pictures online of saucer-shaped craft with Nazi symbols and guns mounted on them. It is rumored that the Nazi’s tried to mount weapons on alien spacecraft and it disrupted the propulsion systems and would not work. There are also rumors that the Germans were developing anti-gravity. In particular, a bell-shaped craft creatively named The Bell. The propulsion system consisted of two cylinders filled with a mercury-like substance that spun in opposite directions.
The way the craft disappeared at the end of Project Blue Book is reminiscent of another conspiracy theory, one known as the Philadelphia Experiment. This mythology was first brought forth in a UFO book, although the author did not find the story credible. Despite the author’s opinion, this theory has a wide following. The story was that the U.S. developed technology that could render a ship invisible. Allegedly in 1943, the USS Eldridge, a 300 ft long Navy destroyer, was used to experiment with the technology. When the invisibility machine was enabled, the ship disappeared. When it reappeared crewmen reported feeling sick, and some were killed by somehow being embedded into the steal of the vessel.
In reality, the Germans were undoubtedly ahead of their time. At the time, technology such as jet propulsion and rockets were very advanced, and the Germans were way ahead of the U.S. in these areas. They even had a jet shaped like a stealth bomber that did partially inspire some of the stealth bomber’s characteristics. However, beyond rumors, there is no evidence they developed anti-gravity or canoodled with aliens.
The end of this Project Blue Book episode seems to suggest UFO sightings are actually due to experimental aircraft. The CIA has suggested this as well. In a CIA report regarding the development of aircraft at Area 51, there is a section titled “U-2s, UFOs, and Operation Blue Book.” In this section, they claim that many UFO reports were due to unwitting civilians spotting test flights of the U-2 spy plane. The report claims, “This, in turn, led to the Air Force’s Operation Blue Book.” The problem with the last statement is that the U.S. Air Force began investigating UFO sightings in 1947 with Project Sign and Project Blue Book began in 1952. The U.S. did not conduct test flights of the U-2 until the mid to late 50s. It is highly likely U-2 test flights did cause UFO reports, but it is not possible for the U-2 test flights to have caused the creation of Project Blue Book.
Project Blue Book Episode 5: Foo Fighters
Let’s start with the Foo Fighters. During World War II allied aircraft personnel occasionally reported spotting round aircraft following them, often at their wingtips. Pilots assumed these were weapons, but none had caused any damage. In the daylight they looked like metallic balls, at night they appeared as glowing orbs of various colors. Investigations into the Foo Fighters have mostly been inconclusive, although a couple of them did conclude the Germans must have had a secret remote-controlled weapon.
Pilots who spotted Foo Fighters were debriefed, and several of their stories made it into newspapers. None of the airmen were reprimanded, discharged, or brainwashed. However, there is a case in which an Air Force Colonel believes his men were debriefed and possibly drugged after a UFO encounter.
In 1980, on the evening of December 26, strange lights were seen in the Rendlesham Forest outside the gates of Bentwaters Royal Air Force base. Bentwaters is in the UK who leased the base to the U.S. Air Force at the time. Three security personnel were sent to investigate. They approached a brightly lit object. Fearful, one of the men stayed with the jeep. Another made it close to the object but stopped short of walking up to it. The third walked right up to the object and described seeing a triangular craft about 6 feet long hovering a few feet off the ground. He had time to circle it and take notes before it moved up above the tree line and took off at an incredible speed.
Deputy base commander Charles Halt was skeptical the lights in the forest were unexplainable. He believed there was a mundane answer and planned to investigate personally if the lights should return. He got his chance a couple of nights later. The lights were seen again, and he took some men into the forest. This time he witnessed the lights firsthand. One of the bright lights broke into several lights and flew into the night sky. Another of the lights maneuvered over the base’s weapons storage area and beamed a light into it. The object then moved towards him and his men and shone a light down in front of their feet. Unable to explain what he saw, Halt believes they encountered alien technology that night.
Halt says he learned years later that “OSI [Office of Special Investigations] operatives harshly interrogated five young airmen…who were key witnesses.” Halt says “the agents told them not to talk about the UFO events, or their careers would be in jeopardy.” And that “Drugs such as Sodium Pentothal…were administered during the interrogations…” His concern is that “the whole thing has had a damaging and lasting effect on the men involved.”
Another bit of strangeness in this episode that is reminiscent of a real-life bit of weirdness is the weird radio transmissions Hynek heard. The real version is even more dramatic. In 1977, British television was interrupted by an extraterrestrial message. On November 26, during Southern Television’s evening news the picture “wobbled” and the audio was taken over by a voice with a message from aliens.
“This is the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you,” the voice pronounced. “For many years you have seen us as lights in the skies. We speak to you now in peace and wisdom as we have done to your brothers and sisters all over this, your planet Earth.”
The message continued to warn humans that we need to get rid of our weapons and take care of our planet, primarily as the earth was about to enter the Age of Aquarius. The announcement continued for nearly 6 minutes. The incident is widely regarded as a hoax, but no one has ever claimed responsibility for the event, nor have investigators figured out how it was pulled off. Some, of course, think it was aliens. But if it was, we certainly did not heed their warning.
Project Blue Book Episode 6: Green Fireballs
There are some great real UFO cases referenced in this episode. The green fireballs were a real phenomenon occurring in the southwest in 1950, especially New Mexico. They were seen so often that the U.S. Air Force set up a special study to investigate them called Project Twinkle. The conclusion to the investigation was that the fireballs were misidentifications of human-made objects, meteorites or other natural phenomena. However, not everyone agreed.
In 1952, Life Magazine featured a story on UFOs that gained a lot of attention. In fact, in his book, Project Blue Book chief Edward Ruppelt claims the article gained so much attention that it helped influence the creation of Project Blue Book. The article featured cases from previous UFO investigations, including Project Sign, which was often referred to as Project Saucer by the media. It also included information about Project Twinkle.
One of the experts quoted in the article was Dr. Lincoln La Paz, who Life described as a “mathematician, astronomer and director of the Institute of Meteoritics at the University of New Mexico.” He investigated the green fireballs.
“[Dr. LaPaz] points out that normal fireballs do not appear green, they fall in the trajectory forced on them by gravity, are generally noisy as a freight train, and leave meteorites where they hit,” according to Life. “The green New Mexican species does none of these things. Neither do the green fireballs appear to be electrostatic phenomena—they move too regularly and too fast.”
Although the Life article only mentions La Paz in the section regarding the green fireballs, what readers did not know was La Paz, and his family witnessed another UFO sighting referenced in the article. The article reviews several UFO incidents and “Incident 2” was witnessed by “one of the U.S.’s top astronomers.”
This astronomer, who turned out to be La Paz, chose to remain anonymous regarding the sighting. He described what he saw as a “sharp and firm regular outline, namely one of a smooth elliptical character much harder and sharper than the edges of the cloudlets… The hue of the luminous object was somewhat less white than the light of Jupiter in a dark sky, not aluminum or silver-colored… The object clearly exhibited a sort of wobbling motion… This wobbling motion served to set off the object as a rigid, if not solid body.”
Another UFO incident indirectly referenced in the show was from the testimony of Robert Salas, who was a missile launch officer in March 1967 when UFOs were spotted above ground, while in the underground missile control bunker, nuclear-armed ICBMs were going offline. According to researchers, UFOs are often seen around nuclear facilities. Similar reports have also come from France and Russia.
Project Blue Book Episode 7: The Scoutmaster
In this episode, Hynek is a little annoying with his debunking. He is getting a bit like Quinn insisting on prosaic answers. Perhaps it is because Hynek is fighting the alien answer externally while inside he is becoming more accepting of the possibility. He does seem to be mystified by the mysterious object, and he admitted that the green fireballs in the previous episode appear to be too advanced to be human technology.
Some people got annoyed by the real Hynek’s debunking as well. Perhaps the most notable is Gerald Ford. Before he was president, Gerald Ford was a congressman from Michigan. In 1966 there were many mysterious UFO sightings in Michigan. Some of those sightings made headlines. During a press conference, Hynek infamously suggested the lights could be swamp gas. Like in the show, this explanation did not sit well with locals. Ford’s office responded in a press release that stated, “Ford is not satisfied with the Air Force explanation of the recent sightings in Michigan and describes the ‘swamp gas’ version given by astrophysicist J. Allen Hynek as flippant.”
Ford even suggested, “Congress investigate the rash of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects in Southern Michigan and other parts of the country.”
Congressional investigations never happened, and when Ford became president, he did not pursue UFO investigations. But he and the state of Michigan were not impressed with Hynek. To this day the term “swamp gas” is used as a joke by UFO enthusiasts to explain away UFO sightings mockingly.
The primary case in the episode was the sighting by the scoutmaster. This was based on a real incident that occurred in West Palm Beach in August 1952. Scoutmaster D.S. DesVergers claims that he was driving with several of his scouts when they saw a light in the forest. He told the boys to stay in the car while he investigates. He claimed to see a large disc-shaped object in the sky that opened up and emitted a red orb. The orb moved towards DesVergers and grew into a haze that engulfed him. He then claims to have lost consciousness.
The next thing he remembers is waking up leaning against a tree. He could barely see, but he made his way back to the highway and found the boys. Local authorities had also arrived.
Project Blue Book Chief Captain Edward J. Ruppelt personally investigated the case. Ruppelt says one of the deputies on the scene who had witnessed DesVergers come out of the forest told him, “In all my 19 years of law-enforcement work, I’ve never seen anyone as terrified as he was.”
At first, Ruppelt seems to believe DesVergers. There was even some physical evidence at the scene in the form of singed grass. However, in the end, Ruppelt concluded the case was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by DesVergers and his scouts. His conclusion was likely influenced by the discovery that DesVergers had a criminal record. Of course many argue Ruppelt’s conclusion was unfounded.
Images of the singed grass and the area where the alleged UFO encounter took place can be found in the Project Blue Book files. In an article on the case on the Hisory Channel’s website, more images can be seen, but I could not find more of the original Blue Book files on this case.
Project Blue Book Episode 8: War Games
Not very much of what is in this show happened during the real Project Blue Book era, nor were they Project Blue Book files. However, several of the situations referenced, although conspiratorial and a little cynical, actually happened.
By cynical, I mean suggesting that our military would put soldiers in harm’s way to test weapons. The sad part is that this happened. In fact, in 2015, several veterans sued because of lasting effects due to experiments they had been a part of. One Army scientists explained that at least one of these tests was related to learning how to induce “fear, panic, hysteria, and hallucinations.”
Whatever it was they used on these guys worked. One veteran explained how he hallucinated for 40 hours. During that time he had thought there were bugs under his skin he wanted to cut out with a razor, and he says he saw “animals coming out of the walls,” including “a huge rabbit” with red eyes.
This is, to me, the scariest part of the episode. It seems that the most terrifying stuff happening to people is a result of other humans, not aliens.
As for the Army Ranger’s UFO encounter, Hynek was associated with a similar alleged incident. Although I do not find it in the Project Blue Book files, the incident took place in May 1951 during the Korean War. The witness recounted the event to an associate with Dr. J. Allen Hynek’s Center for UFO Studies. Hynek created this organization to continue serious UFO research after the U.S. Air Force closed Project Blue Book.
The transcript of the interview is online. In it, Francis P. Wall recounts an encounter he and his fellow soldiers experienced about 60 miles north of Seoul.
The interview begins with Wall stating, “This event that I am about to relate to you is the truth, so help me God. It happened in the early spring of 1951 in Korea.”
Wall says the encounter lasted about 45 minutes to an hour and began during the bombardment of a village. He says a large “jack-o-lantern come wafting down across the mountain.” The object was moving very fast and flew right into artillery air bursts without being affected. The object then turned towards Wall and his group and “turned a blue-green brilliant light.” He requested permission to fire on the object and then did. He says he hit it and could hear a metallic sound when one of his bullets hit the object. However, the craft was not damaged.
It then retaliated. Thus far the object had been silent, but it began “revving up.” Wall described the sound as “like, diesel locomotives revving up.” He says they were then attacked.
“We were swept by some form of a ray that was emitted in pulses, in waves that you could visually see only when it was aiming directly at you,” Wall explained. “Now you would feel a burning, tingling sensation all over your body, as though something were penetrating you.”
Wall says they all ran and hid inside of bunkers and watched the object from their “peep holes.” He says the object hovered over them for a while and then took off at a 45-degree angle.
Three days later, Wall says, “the entire company of men had to be evacuated by ambulance.”
“They had dysentery,” according to Wall. “Then subsequently, when the doctors did see them, they had an extremely high white blood cell count which the doctors could not account for.”
Researchers checked Wall’s military records, and he was in the military in the unit he claimed to be. However, no other witnesses have come forward.
According to the History Channel, soldiers submitted dozens of UFO reports during the Korean War, and “as many as 42 were corroborated by additional witness reports—an average of more than one a month in just over three years.”
Besides the odd UFO encounters and the Army testing on soldiers, you may be shocked to know that there is even some truth to the military program that wants to talk to aliens. The project was not set up specifically to talk to aliens, but it was set up to train and utilize psychic powers. Also, several of those trained on this project have gone on to use what they learned to gain knowledge about UFOs and aliens, allegedly.
I am referring to Project Stargate. The U.S Army initiated it in conjunction with the Stanford Research Institute (SRI)in the late 1970s. A psychic was enlisted to help develop a skill called remote viewing. Subjects would use a protocol in which they could “remote view” locations or people mentally. Declassified CIA document describes remote viewing as “the acquisition and description, by mental means, of information blocked from ordinary perception by distance, shield, or time.”
According to insiders, this method was already being utilized by Russians to see what the U.S. was up to, so the U.S. decided to use it to develop psychic spies that could watch them. Although this project was not used to communicate with aliens, many who were trained by the program used the skill to spy on aliens, and most of them believe they found something.
One final UFO nerd observation I had was that in Hynek’s house there was a painting. The painting is very similar to that of Budd Hopkins, an artist, and alien abduction researcher. Watch the scene early in the show in which Mimi and Hynek are talking in the living room, then look at these pictures of Hopkin’s paintings and let me know what you think. Incidentally, the next episode is going to be about alien abduction.
Project Blue Book Episode 9: Abduction
The only part of any of this episode that is remotely true is that Project Blue Book did investigate an account of alien abduction. The case this is based on is the first publicized account of alien abduction. In the show, Thomas is African-American. In real life, the abduction was reported by a mixed-race couple, Barney and Betty Hill. Barney was African-American, and Betty was Caucasian. On September 19, 1961, the Hills were returning home from a trip to Niagara Falls when they spotted a light in the sky they believed was following them. Eventually, the object moved to just above their vehicle causing Barney to stop. They described the object as looking like a huge flattened circle. Barney looked at the object with binoculars and said he saw humanoid figures through windows.
This frightened Barney, so he ran back to the car and told Betty to roll up the window. Inside the vehicle, they say they felt a strange sensation, and their thoughts became cloudy. When they came to, they were 35 miles from where they thought they were.
Later, under hypnosis that was conducted on them separately so they could not contaminate each other’s accounts, they both remembered being taken onboard a craft and examined by strange humanoid creatures. Betty remembered seeing a series of dots, that an amateur astronomer later came to believe was a star map showing the double star system Zeta Reticuli. To this day, it is common mythology that aliens visiting Earth come from Zeta Reticuli.
Project Blue Book has very little on the case, and it was closed as “insufficient data.“ However, the media popularized the story and a 1975 television movie was made about the situation starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons.
Project Blue Book Episode 10: The Washington Merry-Go-Round
The episode was named “The Washington Merry-Go-Round” after one of the most important chapters in “The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects,” a book by Project Blue Book Chief Edward Ruppelt. The chapter chronicled Ruppelt’s involvement with the famous Washington D.C. UFO sightings in the summer of 1952. The sightings took place over several weeks, and on one evening Project Blue Book personnel took over the control tower of National Airport and monitored the objects, including an encounter with jet fighters. The objects were also caught on radar. In previous encounters with the unknown objects, Air Force personnel suggested they were temperature inversions, a phenomenon that can cause false radar returns. The radar operators at National were very familiar with temperature inversions and confident this was not the case. Temperature inversions are also not visible, and jet fighters would not chase them.
Much to the dismay of the Air Force, the D.C. sightings were making headlines. Especially after several of the jet fighter pilots claimed they saw the objects, attempted to chase them but were unable to close in on them before they vanished. The Air Force was pressured into making a public statement but did so without consulting the Project Blue Book investigators. As in the show, the Air Force told the press the whole thing was due to temperature inversions, which, according to Ruppelt, had already been ruled out.
Another Easter egg came in the form of a film. In the show, the Man in Black gave Hynek and Quinn a piece of film showing a close-up of a rocket mid-flight being zapped by a UFO. The film comes from an alleged real close encounter. The film is not real, but, allegedly, similar film exists. According to Professor Robert Jacobs, as an officer in charge of filming a missile test at Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1964, he filmed a rocket test that failed. He did not think much of it until he was taken into a room by his superiors and asked what the heck happened. They showed him a film of the missile test he had not yet seen, and sure enough, a small object comes into the frame, flies around the missile, seems to beam it with something, then the rocket falls out of the sky. His superiors asked him what the hell that was, and he replied that it looked like a UFO. Jacobs never saw the film again.
The next Easter egg is a bit of an assumption on my part. There was a big deal made about the Man in Black telling Hynek and Quinn humanity is coming into a new age. I am pretty sure this is a nod to a manuscript written by Col. Philip J. Corso. Corso, a decorated officer who, among other posts, headed the Army’s Foreign Technology Desk. He claimed that while working at the Pentagon, he was asked to figure out what to do with a box full of material recovered from the craft that crashed during the famous event outside of Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. A book titled “The Day After Roswell” was written about his account.
In the book, Corso claims that he doled out the materials to various private corporations working on Army Research and development projects and that the pieces were responsible for significant discoveries in the fields of electronics, body armor, fiber optics, night vision, and others. The book, published in 1994 and co-written by William Birnes, was a New York Times Bestseller.
Corso also had a set of personal notes with even more incredible claims. In the notes, one of the claims Corso makes is that he met an alien being. During the encounter, Corso received a message in his head. The message was “A new world order if you can take it.” Corso did not know what that meant, but it seemed to influence the title he gave his notes, “Dawn of a New Age.” The notes were published online in 2010.
The final Easter egg I noted in the show was Hynek’s final report to the President titled “Estimate of the Situation.” According to Ruppelt, the first UFO investigation by the U.S. Air Force, Project Sign, resulted in a report titled, “Estimate of the Situation.” The report concluded that many UFOs were misidentified mundane objects such as aircraft, stars, or other natural phenomena. However, some UFO cases they could not explain and one possible explanation for those few cases was extraterrestrial spacecraft. Higher-ups rejected the report for being too speculative, and they had it destroyed.
In the show, Hynek’s “Estimate of the Situation” prepared for the President, presumably also concludes they might be dealing with aliens. However, he tells the public the Washington D.C. UFOs were likely temperature inversions. Baffled by this statement, Quinn asks why he said that. Hynek tells Quinn if he had said it was aliens, they would have been shut down, so he told them it was temperature inversions so Project Blue Book can live on to fight another day, a fight that will play out in the second season. I wonder if the show would not have been granted a second season if Hynek would have told the public it was aliens and Project Blue Book would have closed.
After the real “Estimate of the Situation” came out, Project Sign was shut down. The Air Force renamed it Project Grudge, and according to Rupplet, ushered in an era in which the Air Force did their best to debunk all UFO sightings. Project Grudge made the public cynical about the Air Force taking UFO investigations seriously, an issue Ruppelt had to deal with when Project Grudge closed and he took the helm of Project Blue Book.