Editor’s Note: Jan Aldrich is the director of Project 1947, devoted to the documentation of the early history of the UFO phenomenon. He and the project may be be reached at Box 391, Canterbury, CT 06331.
Top-Secret 1949 Document
by Jan Aldrich
In the general correspondence file on UFOs for the Director of Intelligence (Decimal files .009 "Flying Disks" 1949), there were vague references made to this document and other USAF contacts with the Joint Intelligence Committee regarding UFOs. Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) did submit FOIA requests for the document, which was thought to be classified secret.CAUS had been looking for this document for more than 20 years. It was found in the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, in the USAF Air Force Director of Intelligence files entitled A General File July 1945--December 1954: Records Relating to the Requirements for and the Collection and Dissemination of Intelligence" (Records Group 341, Entry 214A) during research for Project 1947 in July 1997. The JIC document had not been found previously because it had been classified top secret and was not in the records checked to satisfy the previous FOIA requests. This discovery demonstrates the usefulness of on site records inspection by researchers.
Project SaucerIn his 1950 paperback book The Flying Saucers Are Real, pp. 18 &19, 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.]
"There’s something damned queer going on. For fifteen months, 'Project Sauce' 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?"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 made a concerted effort to disseminate its position to both official circles and the public.
Among these activities were:
1. The Directorate of Intelligence personnel briefed the USAF Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and his staff on UFOs on April 27, 1949. (Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, Decimal Correspondence File, "Flying Discs," 1949, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland.)
2. The Air Force sent a top-secret "Unidentified Aerial Objects" presentation with Appendix A, a summary of Air Force actions, to the Joint Intelligence Committee
(JIC) on April 27, 1949. The Committee was composed of representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force, State Department, FBI and CIA. (Deputy Director of Intelligence, USAF. Records Group 341, Entry 214A, Top Secret Control #2-7051-A, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland. Reprinted in full at the end of this article.)
3.The USAF 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, April 28, 1949, although the document had been approved on December 1948. (USAF Directorate of Intelligence, Current Intelligence Files: Top Secret Control #2-7341, National Archives II, College Park, Maryland; see roject1947.com/fig/1948air.htm
4. The "Memorandum for the Press: Project Saucer" was released on April 29, 1949. ("Project Saucer," Memorandum to the Press # M26-49, April 27, 1949, Project Blue Book files; see
5. The Saturday Evening Post hit the newsstands on April 29,1949, with the first part of Sidney Shalett’s article on UFOs. ("What You Can Believe About Flying Saucers," Saturday Evening Post, April 30, 1949, pp. 20-21, 136-39; part 2, May 7, 1949, pp. 36, 184-86.)
The Air Force Public Relations Office cooperated fully with Shalett in the preparation of his article, but Major General Cabell had major problems. He would rather have had complete control over the press policy. However, his attempt to obtain this authority from Secretary of Defense Forrestal appeared to have been thwarted by Mr. Leo of the Public Relations Office. (See the Air Staff Study on press policy and flying discs, http://www/project1947.com/fig/1948e.htm ; Memorandum to Forrestal on press policy,
Memorandum for Record concerning press policy,
and Secretary of Air Force Office of Information UFO files 1947-1952, microfilm #33765, USAF Historical Research Activity, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.)
Shalett’s article dismissed UFOs as any type of problem 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. Or if not, that actions be taken to determine whether they were a foreign development.
Shalett’s article was his own, but it was probably endorsed by Leo. The Project Saucer press release was less negative, as 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 Air Force intelligence position.
Project Grudge’s files had been opened to Shalett. Leo wrote to Wright Field, advising that Shalett should be given access to all information except for foreign sources and any material classified top secret.
Soon after Shalett’s article hit the stands, other writers and editors also requested access to the files at Wright Field. Purdy was one of the first. Maj. Gen. Cabell may have ost his bid to limit press access, but when asked about these new requests, Cabell responded that if one writer was given access, then all of them should have access. Cabell’s sense of fair play may have helped Keyhoe and Purdy obtain the information that convinced them that UFOs were extraterrestrial. The desired effect of Shalett’s article was soon overcome by Keyhoe’s articles and his subsequent bestselling book, The Flying Saucers Are Real.
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 document. The study that led to "Analysis of Flying Object Reports in the United States" was initiated by Maj. Gen. Cabell on July 27, 1948, shortly after the Chiles-Whitted sighting, not August 6, 1948, as given in the JIC presentation. (Records Group 341, General Files, Entry 214, Top Secret Control # 2-3931.)
In the JIC report the Directorate of Intelligence had already abandoned a major portion of the freshly printed A Analysis." In about 18 months the "Analysis" would be completely discarded and ordered destroyed. (Letter, Subject: Destruction of Air Intelligence Report Number 10079, September 25, 1950, Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, Decimal Correspondence File, A Flying Discs," 1950, National Archives II, College Park Maryland.)
The problem1. To advise the Joint Intelligence Committee of the findings of the Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, regarding the sightings of unidentified aerial objects and the Air Force organization established for further investigation and solution of the problem.
Facts bearing on the problem2. Following the great number of reported sightings of flying discs during the summer of 1947, Hq, Air Materiel Command, in a letter dated 23 September 1947, requested that the Commanding General, Army Air Forces, issue a directive assigning a priority, security classification and code name for a detailed study of flying disc reports. Hq, Air Materiel Command explained that their action was based on the opinion that phenomena reported appeared to be real and that there were objects in existence which would approximate the shape of a disc. AMC concluded that some incidents might be caused by natural phenomena but that some incidents described characteristics which suggested evasive tactics. Awaiting a specific directive, Hq, AMC continued to collect information on flying disc incidents in order to more clearly define the nature of the phenomena. On the 22nd of December 1947, in a memorandum, "Analysis of Flying Disc Reports," the Director of Intelligence concurred with Air Materiel Command’s recommendation and forwarded their letter to the Director of Research and Development, DCS/M for reply.
3. In a letter dated 30 December 1947, the Director of Research and Development, DCS/M, advised the Commanding General, AMC, that Air Force policy was not to ignore reports of sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere but to recognize that part of its mission to collect, evaluate and act on information of this nature. To implement this policy it was directed that Hq, Air Materiel Command set up a project with the purpose of collecting, collating, evaluating, and distributing to interested government agencies and contractors, all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which could be construed to be of concern to the national security. This directive assigned a priority of 2-A to the project, a RESTRICTED classification, and a code name of "SIGN."
4. At Air Materiel Command the Technical Intelligence Division was assigned the responsibility for accomplishing this mission with the full assistance of all divisions and activities within Air Materiel Command to permit successful completion of the project. The cooperation of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and F.B.I. was solicited in order to facilitate the forwarding and investigation of all reports. Arrangements were effected for handling such reports directly with Air Materiel Command.
5. In addition to the collection, analysis and investigation activities directed by the project personnel at Hq, Air Materiel Command, Air Intelligence Memorandum dated 6 August 1948, subject: "Flying Saucers," required that a study be made by the Air Intelligence Division to examine the pattern of tactics of reported flying saucers and develop conclusions as to their probability. The results of this analysis were prepared as Air Intelligence division (DI/USAF-ONI) Study No. 203, "Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the United States." The Directorate of Intelligence has maintained close liaison with Project "SIGN" activities in order that appropriate staff sections of Headquarters, USAF may be adequately advised on the entire subject of unidentified aerial phenomena reports.
6. The code name of "SIGN" for the project was changed to "GRUDGE" by a request on 16 December 1948 by the Director of Research and Development, DCS/M, Hq, USAF. "GRUDGE" under the U.S. Joint Services Code Word Index refers to the title "Detailed Study of Flying Discs."
Assumptions and conclusions7. Hq, Air Materiel Command will continue its investigations under project "GRUDGE" and the Directorate of Intelligence, USAF, will maintain close liaison with that Command in order to advise Staff sections on the subject of unidentified aerial objects.
8. See Appendix "A" for discussion of the problem and conclusions drawn therefrom.
Recommendations9. It is recommended that the Joint Intelligence Committee:
a. Furnish the Director of Intelligence, USAF, with comments on this paper.
Unidentified Aerial Objects
2. Condensed summaries have been prepared on each incident to provide basic
information to individuals and agencies having a responsibility or interest
in the project.