Report by the Director of Intelligence, USAF, to the

Joint Intelligence Committee on Unidentified Aerial Objects

By Jan. L. Aldrich.

      In The Flying Saucers Are Real, Donald E. Keyhoe reported a conversation with Ken Purdy, an editor at True magazine:

  "Have you seen the [Saturday Evening] Post this week?" [said Purdy.]

  "I told him no."

  "There's something damned queer going on.  For fifteen months, `Project Saucer' is buttoned up tight.  Top Secret.  Then suddenly, Forrestal gets the Saturday Evening Post to run two articles, brushing the whole thing off.  The first piece hits the stands – and what happens?"

  "The same day, the Air Force rushes out this `Project Saucer' report.  It admits they haven't identified the disks in any important cases.  They say it's still serious enough – wait a minute –' he thumbed through the stapled papers – 'to require constant vigilance by Project `Saucer' personnel and civilian population.''

  Purdy only knew the half of it.  There was more. Had Keyhoe or Purdy known of the other activities around the last part of April and early May, they would have been sure there was something funny occurring.  The Air Force had made a concerted effort to spread its position in both official circles and to the public. [1]

  Among the activities were:

      1.   The Directorate of Intelligence personnel briefing the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and his staff on UFOs on 27 April 1949. [2]

      2.  The Air Force sent a Top Secret "Unidentified Aerial Objects" presentation with Appendix A, a summary of Air Force actions to the Joint Committee on Intelligence (JIC) on 27 April 1949.  The Committee was composed of representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, State Department, FBI and CIA. [3]

      3.  The printed copies of the Top Secret "Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the United States" (Air Intelligence Report 100-203-79) by the USAF Director Intelligence and the Office of Naval Intelligence.  The printed report cover shows the date, 28 April 1949 although the document had been approved on 10 December 1948. [4]

      4.  The "Memorandum for the Press" "Project Saucer was released to the press on 29 April 1949. [5]

      5.  The Saturday Evening Post hit the news stands on 29 April 1949 with the first part of Sidney Shalett's article on UFOs. [6]

      The Air Force Public Relations Office gave its full cooperation to Shalett in the preparation of his Saturday Evening Post features.

      Major General Cabell had major problems with Shalett and his articles.  He would have preferred to have complete control over the press policy.  However, his attempt to obtain such authority from Secretary of Defense Forrestal appeared to have been thwarted by Mr. Leo of the Public Relations Office. [7]

      Shalett's articles dismissed UFOs as any cause for concern, despite the conclusions of the recently printed, "Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the United States," which recommended that efforts be taken to determine whether UFOs represented a domestic development, and if not, that actions should then be taken to determine if they were a foreign development

      Shalett's article was his own, but probably endorsed by Mr. Leo. The Project Saucer press release was less negative than Purdy pointed out to Keyhoe.

      There was then a necessity to make sure that the USAF and the Intelligence community knew the Directorate of Intelligence's position.  Therefore, the briefings prior to the release of the Project Saucer press memorandum informed these officials of the position held by Air Force Intelligence.

      Project Grudge's files had been opened to Shalett.  Mr. Leo wrote to Wright Field that Shalett should be given access to all information, except that from foreign sources, and material classified Top Secret.

      Soon after Shalett's article hit the stands, other writers and editors requested access to the files at Wright Field.  Purdy was one of the first.  Maj. Gen. Cabell may have lost his bid to limit press access, but now when asked about these new requests, Cabell responded that if one writer was given access, all should be given access.  Cabell's sense of fair play may have helped Keyhoe and Purdy obtain the information which convinced them that UFO's were extraterrestrial.  The desired effect of Shalett's article was soon overtaken by Keyhoe's articles and his subsequent best selling book, The Flying Saucers Are Real. [8]

      The JIC document has eluded researchers for years.  In it one can see the seeds of the later Project Grudge report.  It contains a summarized history of the Air Force's early attempt to investigate UFO reports.

      There is one error in the JIC document.  The study that lead to "Analysis of Flying Object Reports in the United States" was initiated by Maj. Gen. Cabell on 27 July, 1948, shortly after the Chiles-Whitted sighting, not 6 August, 1948, as given in the JIC presentation. [9]

      In the JIC report the Directorate of Intelligence had already abandoned a major portion of the freshly printed, "Analysis."  In about 18 months the "Analysis" would be completely discarded and ordered destroyed. [10]

[1]   Keyhoe, Donald E., The Flying Saucers Are Real, Gold Medal,
1950, page 18-19.

[2]  See:
Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, Decimal Correspondence File,
"Flying Discs," 1949, National Archives II, College Park Maryland.

[3]   See:
Deputy Director of Intelligence, USAF. Records Group 341, Entry 214A, Top Secret Control #2-7051-A, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland.

[4]   See:
USAF Directorate of Intelligence, Current Intelligence Files: Top Secret
Control #2- 7341 National Archives II, College Park, Maryland

[5]   See:
"Project Saucer," Memorandum to the Press # M26-49, 27 April 1949,
Project Blue Book files.

[6]   The Saturday Evening Post, April 30, 1949 and The Saturday Evening Post May 7, 1949.

[7] See:
Air Staff Study on press policy and flying discs.

< See:
Memorandum to Forrestal on press policy.

Memorandum for Record concerning press policy.

Secretary of Air Force Office of Information UFO files 1947- 1952,
microfilm #33765, USAF Historical Research Activity, Maxwell Air
Force Base, AL.

[8]   Secretary of Air Force Office of Information UFO files 1947- 1952,
microfilm #33765, USAF Historical Research Activity, Maxwell Air
Force Base, AL.

[9]   Records Group 341, General Files, Entry 214, Top Secret Control # 2-3931.

[10]   Letter, Subject: Destruction of Air Intelligence Report Number 100-203-79, 25 September 1950, Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, Decimal Correspondence File, "Flying Discs," 1950, National Archives II, College Park Maryland.

1949 UFO Reports    
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Revised: April 25, 2014