This Project Blue Book review contains spoilers.
Project Blue Book Episode 7
Project Blue Book continues to be much more exciting than real-life events, even though the real story is about the Air Force investigating potential alien spacecraft. This week, Hynek invokes the swamp gas theory for a UFO sighting, later revealing the case to be a hoax, while Captain Quinn discovers he is the victim of deception as well.
Captain Quinn is on special assignment for General Harding. Someone stole something important from the Air Force base Hynek and Quinn visited in the last episode, and Harding tells Quinn he thinks it was Edward Rizzuto. Rizzuto is the Russian spy Quinn caught. Harding is sending Quinn to question Rizzuto. Quinn’s form of questioning is brutal. First, he roughs up Rizzuto, and then he makes him breakfast with a gun on the table. At one point Rizzuot pisses off Quinn, so Quinn sticks a fork in his hand. Ouch!
Quinn eventually leaves Rizzuto’s apartment, and Harding comes in. It turns out Rizzuto and Harding were setting Quinn up. Harding suspects Quinn was the thief. Quinn overhears Harding and Rizzuto and confronts Harding. Harding said he had to test him because they found the object missing after Quinn and Hynek had left. He also explains how he turned Rizzuto into a double agent.
When told all of this, Quinn’s expression revealed he knows who might have the mysterious important object. Although we as the audience can tell from his mannerisms, Quinn knows something. Fortunately, Harding doesn’t notice. I am being sarcastic of course. I find it funny when characters play to the audience, and the other characters miss their obvious reactions.
Meanwhile, Hynek has gone to Bowling Green, Ohio to investigate the Bowling Green Massacre. It turns out there was a massacre, and it was an alien who was gunned down mercilessly. A scoutmaster was camping with his troop when they all witnessed lights in the forest. The scoutmaster told the kids to stay put while he investigates. There is then yelling and gunshots. The kids find a charred and burning forest, but their scoutmaster is gone.
Hynek comes on the scene and joins a town hall meeting on the matter. He explains to the townsfolk it could be a case of swamp gas. Swamp gas, also known as marsh gas, is a condition in which rotting vegetation can produce flammable gasses. It is rare, but these gasses can then ignite in the right circumstances. The townsfolk do not like his explanation.
As Hynek is explaining this trying to convince the townspeople, the scoutmaster wonders into the room, battered and singed. So much for swamp gas, Dr. Hyenk. The scoutmaster explains that he saw an object above him in the forest that night. Then a creature came out of the object. Naturally, the scoutmaster shot at it, and it appeared he go it.
Hynek takes the scoutmaster back to the scene of the encounter, and they find an alien looking skull in the ground. Hynek takes the skull to a local Choctaw who is visibly upset. It turns out this skull was stolen. It is a skull that looks alien because the head has been elongated by head binding. Some cultures place binding around the skull of a child beginning at birth to cause the skull to change shape. The Choctaw man explains this was first done in honor of the “Star People.”
In the end, Quinn confronts Hynek who denies having stolen anything.
This episode is undoubtedly full of twists and turns, and it keeps the audience on their toes. As far as aliens go, the UFO case in this episode turned out to be a hoax, but there is still a matter of the mysterious alien-looking object. At the end of the episode, Hynek puts it in the backseat of his car and his tail lights get bright and crack.
The Project Blue Book Files
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 History Channel’s website, more images can be seen, but I could not find more of the original Blue Book files on this case.
Whether or not aliens are to be blamed for the alleged attack on scoutmaster DesVergers will continue to be debated. As for the show, whether or not aliens have anything to do with UFOs is also still unclear. We are learning a lot about Russian espionage, mind control, and men in black related to Project Blue Book, which is all fictional, but what about the aliens?
History has renewed the series for a second season, so audiences must be liking the show. It could be that viewers like exploring alternate conspiracy theories to the idea that UFOs are aliens. I appreciate that line of thinking because it seems like I have to continually remind people the U in UFO does not stand for aliens, it stands for Unidentified. Meaning, we do not know what the hell is going on.
Alejandro Rojas writes and blogs about science, entertainment, and the paranormal. Alejandro has spent many hours in the field investigating anomalous phenomena up close and personal. You can find him on Twitter here.