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"Area 51 is a riddle. Very few people comprehend what goes on there, and millions want to know." - Annie Jacobsen, author of Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base
In my 21 years of Air Force service I only met one man who was stationed at Area 51. Area 51 is, of course, the infamous installation in Nevada where, supposedly, the government hides all its captured Unidentified Flying Objects. So perhaps I have met more than one person who has been assigned there, but no one else admitted it. This guy did, to an office full of us, at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. But then he told us there was nothing he could tell us!
Sort of begged the question, what did he bring it up for in the first place? But I knew why—because it was killing him to hold it inside. To be exposed to something out of the ordinary but not be able to tell anyone for the rest of your life? Had to be eating him alive. He’d seen something weird at that place, and finally, towards the date of his retirement, he at least had to leak a little of that weirdness out.
Humans are hardwired to love weird. But what was the thing or things he’d seen which were so weird? What, pray tell, was/is the military doing out there at Groom Lake, besides the standard conducting of top secret aviation testing (which isn’t really that weird at all. It’s cool, sure. But weird, it ain’t).
Well if we’re talking Area 51, we should consider Project BLUE BOOK, the Air Force’s official attempt to document UFO sightings. Launched in 1947 and running through 1969, BLUE BOOK was the successor to two prior yet short-lived programs—Project SIGN and Project GRUDGE. Where BLUE BOOK differed from its predecessors was in the fact that it not only took note of sightings but actively attempted to manage the aftermath of them.
Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base
To learn a few insider secrets about Area 51, give Annie's Jacobsen's book a read!
Project BLUE BOOK
BLUE BOOK, in other words, was designed to downplay the commotion which would naturally occur any time a person reported seeing a UFO (at least according to many people who claimed to have been questioned or intimidated by agents). The rationale for this control mechanism was simply to keep a lid on things in order to maintain public calm in the face of potentially hysteria-inciting events.
Who could really blame them? After all, scarcely a decade had passed since the infamous 1938 radio production of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, in which Orson Welles related to listeners the events of an alien invasion as a “news bulletin,” an event which was actually occurring in real time outside their homes. Papers reported an ensuing panic. If the public was that gullible then surely the Air Force had a duty to protect them against the irrational fear of mysterious, but likely Earthly, aircraft.
War of the Worlds
Read the suspenseful H.G.Well's classic novel which was turned into a radio play and later into several films adaptations!
Or…was the Air Force trying to keep things under wraps because UFO’s actually were believed to be of extraterrestrial origins? Seems far-fetched, and yet Project SIGN had initially suggested this very scenario…prior to the Pentagon shutting it down.
Whatever Uncle Sam’s reason for starting BLUE BOOK, it had the opposite effect of that intended. It did not squash rumors; it fed them. Conspiracists were now more convinced than ever before that the USAF was covering up something and trying to bully the population into forgetting about it.
Men In Black
The stories grew stranger and stranger. The Men in Black weren’t human. Their eyes glowed. They behaved like robots, or like aliens themselves, but in rather poor human disguises. They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers by Gray Barker was published in 1956 and told the entire tale of these Cadillac-driving monsters. Later UFOlogists began to believe the MIB were simply Air Force intelligence officers trying to lay some spookiness on them (see my note near the end, referencing the USAF Office of Special Investigations).
They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers
You'll know too much about flying saucers, too, after reading Gray Barker's "true story" classic! Just don't answer the door when the MIB's pay a visit...
Speaking of spookiness, perhaps the most feared of the supposed MIB’s was one Indrid Cold, aka the “Grinning Man.” There is little known about him apart from fables, but, like Boba Fett’s minimal appearance in Empire Strikes Back, Cold’s striking visage left a lasting impression. First encountered on October 16, 1966, in New Jersey, he was said to have shown up inexplicably following a UFO sighting, wearing a metal green suit and a grin from ear to ear. The same bizarre-faced individual was spotted a few weeks later by a Mr. Woodrow Derenberger near Point Pleasant, West Virginia, near the sightings of “Mothman,” only this time he’d changed suits. Now Cold sported a fancy blue metal suit but the same sardonic grin and eerie personality.
Of course now we’ve ventured into true conspiracy country, so let’s get out of the ditches and back on the road.
The Mothman Prophecies
No UFO cover-up library is complete without at least one book about the "Mothman," so you may as well start with the tale which began it all...
One interesting thing to note, however, is that while BLUE BOOK clearly states it found nothing of concern or interest, it doesn’t mention the fact that it has purposefully left out all the good reports!
Here is an excerpt from the referenced July 24, 1989, letter written by an anonymous but clearly high-level government administrator to a Mr. William Sessions, Director of the FBI. This file is taken directly from the FBI’s public website.
Project Blue Book: The Top Secret UFO Findings Revealed!
Blue Book enthusiasts can sink their teeth into this juicy hunk of conspiracy, edited by the renowned Brad Steiger!
Above is another excerpt, from a September 12, 1989--another letter to the FBI Director...
In the both letters this administrator, whose name and signature blocks are redacted (blacked out), mentions (quite mundanely) a cover-up. In the September letter, he talks about the “better” reports which BLUE BOOK didn’t even cover, and the “real, hard unknowns,’ which were hidden by intelligence agencies.
It is right there in print!
So BLUE BOOK was designed to be a white-wash, it would seem.
It was shallow, a sugar coat of fluffy nothingness. Even the above “legalese” of their denial wording could be taken in a different context.
For example, no UFO would be a threat to national security if it had crashed and been hauled to Area 51.
Nor would it represent a technological development beyond the range of present day scientific knowledge, since the engineers at Area 51 now have their hands on that knowledge.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
If you think I’m making mountains out of molehills, just remember President Bill Clinton’s reliance on his legal definition of the word “is” during his impeachment proceedings. He’d been ask if there “is” an improper relationship going on between him and Monica Lewinsky. He testified no. There “was” one, but there “is” not one at the specific moment in time the question was being raised.
"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the--if he--if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not--that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true."
My point in lingering on this issue is to show how utterly dedicated the government can be to double-speak and wordplay. It is sheer disingenuousness, the dirty cousin of straight lying. That is what makes it so hard to catch them with their pants down, so to speak.
Yet hope remains, dear reader! Just consider the wisdom of Tyler Durden’s quote from Fight Club: “On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”
The same principle applies to government cover-ups. Eventually entropy will catch up; mistakes are made, and holes will be exposed. On a long enough timeline the survival rate for a cover-up drops to zero, too.
Unless people just forget the whole thing during the extended wait time.
Does Fight Club really tie in with UFO conspiracies? Hey, EVERYTHING ties in with UFO conspiracies... Actually, Fight Club does quite well as a conspiracy novel in its own right. So, either way--read it!
Of course it is a well-known fact that Groom Lake is a test site for experimental aircraft and weaponry, and so it is possible that the Air Force has intentionally stoked UFO theories in order to distract from the real world doings at the secretive location.
When it comes to the area nicknamed “Dreamland,” almost anything is possible.
One specific program they were likely quite keen to keep hush-hush was mid-50’s Project Pluto, a nuclear-powered Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile (SLAM) which used a ramjet to tunnel through the skies contaminating everything in its path…a bonus aftereffect, but far worse was the payload it carried—26 hydrogen bombs, lobbed directly out of the vessel’s topside, allowing it extra time to escape the substantial blast zone once a bomb detonated.
Oh, and apart from the hydrogen bombs and unshielded nuke engine, the SLAM cut through the air so fast and low that the sonic booms chasing after it would also lay waste to anything in its wake.
Few weapons have ever been so randomly destructive.
Yet at the same time, the “Flying Crowbar” as it was dubbed was nigh-uncontrollable. Once this sucker was launched, the missile was, in theory, guided via Terrain Contour Matching technology. This was the ‘50’s, mind you, so such technology was far ahead of its time…perhaps too far to be trusted.
The prototypes were built and the nuclear engines tested on the ground in the Nevada deserts. By 1964, the Tory-IIC SLAM was nearly ready for its initial flight, much to the delight of the Pentagon.
Luckily, however, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile technology had caught up to and indeed surpassed the speed of the globe-ravaging SLAM. Meanwhile those Pentagon officials began to finally question the rationality of unchaining a nuke-laden missile with enough horsepower to circumnavigate the globe many times over, all the while scorching the planet with gamma and neutron radiation (and don’t forget those ground-shaking sonic booms!).
What, they wondered, would happen if the guidance system went offline? The Tory “Flying Crowbar” would be unstoppable, that's what would happen.
So clearer heads prevailed and Project Pluto was mothballed, while aspects of the SLAM tech were reutilized for future secretive craft (like the NASA X-43A).
Such is but one of Area 51's secret doings. Imagine if their entire catalog of superweapons were revealed to the public?
But don't worry--that will never happen. The weirdness will continue, as will the secrecy...
Alien Hand Syndrome and Other Too-Weird-Not-To-Be True Stories
So you're tellin' me you just can't get enough conspiracy strangeness? I don't blame you! I learned about Project Pluto from Alan Bellows' far-out collection of oddities; it is recommended reading for fans of WEIRD.
You can learn more about Project BLUE BOOK directly from the public National Archives, here.
According to the site, they maintain, “records include approximately 2 cubic feet of unarranged project or administrative files, 37 cubic feet of case files in which individual sightings are arranged chronologically, and 3 cubic feet of records relating to the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), portions of which are arranged chronologically, by OSI district, and by overseas command. A cubic foot of records comprises about 2,000 pages…”
Note: the Office of Special Investigations is indeed the same agency which UFOlogists have long claimed runs the Men In Black program.
The FBI also maintains a public site for details on Project BLUE BOOK, here.
Note: the above letter excerpts were taken from this site.
Note: Of course the government will not release any and every thing you ask for. However, the as stated on their site, the “Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.”
Thus there are many legal means by which the government may refuse to provide data by citing any of these nine exemptions. As you might expect!
The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups
If you want a truly grounded "big book" of cover-ups, few can match the no-nonsense-ness of The Mammoth Book of Cover-Ups! Though slightly dated, these conspiracies never grow old. Check it out! Just make sure to use someone else's login; the government keeps tabs on who buys this, you know.