General Smith













       I apologize for the length of the two memoranda, but in view of Life’s intention to publish an article in the near future on this subject, and in view of the rather startling conclusions they will draw, I thought we should be fully covered.

       We are now in the process of preparing a proposed press release covering current AF activities re “flying saucers”.  Will bring it to you for approval after staff coordination.

        Dewitt R.

Dewitt R. Searles
  28 Feb

28 February 1952


 SUBJECT:     Flying Saucers

For the past year, Mr. Robert Ginna of LIFE Magazine has been collecting background information on "flying saucers" and other unusual aerial phenomena.

On 22 June 1951, Mr. Ginna visited the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB for the purpose of obtaining first-hand information on “Project Saucer.”  This visit was arranged by Mr. John T. Shea, who was at that time Special Assistant to the Director of Public Relations.

Subsequent to his visit to ATIC, Mr. Ginna has made a special project of “flying saucers.”  He has traveled thousands of miles interviewing people who have reported seeing “flying saucers,” people who engaged in “Project Saucer,” and various astronomers, physicists, psychologists and other scientists concerning their opinions with respect to “flying saucers.”

He is a well-educated and highly intelligent man and appears to have as firm a grip on this nebulous subject as our own intelligence people.  He has a detailed knowledge of Air Force efforts in this field and is similarly acquainted with related non-Air Force activities.

On 25 February 1952, Mr. Ginna came to Headquarters, USAF, with the stated intention of bringing his previously gathered information up to date.

Late that afternoon, Brigadier General Sory Smith arranged for him to talk with General Joseph F. Carroll, Deputy Inspector General, and director of Special Investigations.

On 26 February 1952, Mr. Ginna requested Lt. Col. Searles, OSD/OPI (and AFCPR) to make arrangements for him to again visit ATIC at Wright-Patterson AFB on March 3, 1952.  Mr. Ginna’s request was coordinated with Brigadier General William M. Garland, AFOIN, who requested that an interview be arranged for Mr. Ginna with him prior to his going to ATIC.  The interview was so arranged and took place from 1030 hours to 1300 hours on 27 February 1952.

On the afternoon of 27 February 1952, after checking with

28 February 1952


 SUBJECT:     Flying Saucers

Col. William M. Turner, Executive to General Carroll, an interview was arranged for Mr. Ginna with Col. Doyle Rees, OSI, Plans and Inspection Branch, who has done work on “flying saucers” in the past.

General Garland called ATIC on 28 February 1952 and advised them of Mr. Ginna’s proposed visit on Monday, March 3, 1952.

Lt. Col., USAF

28 February 1952


 SUBJECT:     Flying Saucers

At 1030 hours on 27 February 1952, at the request of Brigadier General William M. Garland, Assistant for Production, Directorate of Intelligence, an interview was arranged for Mr. Robert E. Ginna Jr., LIFE Magazine, 9 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, to discuss recent reports of unusual aerial phenomena and Air Force efforts to determine the cause and nature of the reported phenomena.  In additon to General Garland and Mr. Ginna, the interview was attended by Mrs. Helen Barber, Editor of the AIR INTELLIGENCE DIGEST and Lt. Col. Dewitt R. Searles, Directorate of Public Relations.

Mr. Ginna explained that he had been collecting information on “flying saucers” and other usual aerial phenomena for more than a year and that the Managing Editor of LIFE was considering publishing a feature story, based upon information previously obtained, in the near future.  Mr. Ginna stated that he would like to go to ATIC to obtain information concerning the latest reports of unusual aerial phenomena and to find out exactly how these reports were processed and what the Air Force was doing to ascertain the cause and nature of the phenomena reported.

General Garland was most sympathetic to Mr. Ginna’s request and stated that the Air Force has continued to investigate these reports and that is was now taking a “positive” rather than “negative” action concerning this subject.  This positive approach, he explained, consists of efforts by the Air Force to actually observe, track, photograph and otherwise record unusual aerial phenomena in addition to investigating reports from non-military sources.

General Garland stated that he planned to take action to increase the number of competent observers by issuing collecting instructions to units in the field requesting that they make every effort to sight, track, record, and otherwise observe any unusual aerial activity and that they report such activity to ATIC.  He mentioned also that he planned to request reliable non-military agencies, such as AOPA, airline pilots organizations, and scientists and scientific organizations to aid the Air Force in these efforts.

General Garland suggested that LIFE Magazine assist the Air Force

28 February 1952


 SUBJECT:     Flying Saucers

in these efforts through a free exchange of information.  He stated that our raw reports of “flying saucer” sightings might be declassified and made available to LIFE if LIFE, in turn, would make their information available to the Air Force.  He said that such an open exchange of information should continue unless we form a conclusion that should be classified.

General Garland expressed the opinion that LIFE should delay publication of an article on “flying saucers” until such time as more conclusive evidence can be obtained.  He pointed out, however, that if LIFE agrees to work with the Air Force, and if a conclusion is reached which indicated a threat to national security, the Air Force would insist that LIFE withhold publication.  Rephrasing his remarks, General Garland said that he was genuinely concerned about past and recent “flying saucer” reports and that he would appreciate LIFE’s withholding publication on the subject until we have more conclusive evidence as to the cause, nature, and possible threat to the United States, of the objects reported.

Mr. Ginna then discussed his activities relative to the subject and outlined the tentative conclusions reached by LIFE. These tentative conclusions are:

1.  “Green Fireballs” reported recently in the New Mexico area are not natural phenomena.  LIFE does not know what they are but considers them to be man-made.

2.  “Flying Saucers,” or “Discs” result from foreign activity or they are space craft from another planet.  LIFE leans toward the “space craft” theory as it believes the aerodynamic configuration of the discs is more suitable for space travel than for travel through the atmosphere.

As the discussion continued, these further remarks of significance were made.

General Garland advised that he is considering making arrangements for a guided missile to be fired at one of the objects, and of having camera equipped all-weather interceptors stand by to attempt to intercept and photograph them.

He again stated that he would like LIFE to delay publication until we could come up with a solid “yes or no” answer to the “flying saucer” problem.  He advised Mr. Ginna that he would work with LIFE up to the limit of his authority but that all information collected would have to be evaluated in light of a possible threat to the United States.


28 February 1952


 SUBJECT:     Flying Saucers

Toward the end of the interview a set of ground rules were established concerning the discussion.  It was agreed that:

1.  If LIFE elects to publish a feature article based upon information they have previously obtained, no reference will be made to the interview and information revealed in the interview will not be used.

2.  LIFE will provide the Air Force with an advance copy of anything they propose to publish relative to the interview with the clear understanding that permission to publish may be denied at a higher level.

3.  LIFE will advise the Air Force whether or not they intend to accept General Garland's proposal to pool “flying saucer” information. If so, a new agreement concerning publication will be made.

Lt. Col., USAF


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