Project Blue Book: Home Movies in UFO Reports
In a previous post, we gave an overview of Project Blue Book, the 1952-1969 United States Air Force investigation into UFO sightings. For that post, we featured publicity interviews produced by the Air Force that explained the project. This week, we’ll feature some of the home movies that were submitted by citizens as evidence of sightings.
While the records of Project Blue Book are primarily textual (to the tune of 84,000 pages), there are a handful of films that were used in the investigation. In total, there are 18 home movies that were shot around the United States between 1952 and 1967. Six of them are presented here.
These films were scanned in HD from 16mm blow-ups of 8mm films. They have not been edited or altered. Can you identify the UFOs in these films?
Luke AFB, Arizona, 03/03/1953
Montebello, California, 12/01/1957
Duncansville, Texas, 12/12/1957
River Forest, Illinois, 01/01/1958 – 01/10/1958
Colorado Springs, Colorado, 08/09/1964
Galesburg, Moline, Illinois, 03/06/1967 – 03/09/1967
Project Blue Book may have closed in 1970, but that doesn’t mean that citizens no longer see things the sky and attribute them to extraterrestrial origins. Recent news reports certainly suggest otherwise. Without even looking for them, I came across several stories of UFO sightings while preparing this material. In one case, observers in Maine called the local police when they mistook a spotlight for a UFO hovering over Augusta. In Texas, multiple UFO sightings turned out to be paper lanterns used at a wedding. And then there are these videos, all posted in September, documenting sightings in Canada, Germany, and over the Indian Ocean.
As a final note, it is useful to understand how the Project Blue Book home movies differ from the bulk of the film holdings at NARA. As one might expect given our mandate to acquire and preserve federal records, most of the films in the National Archives’ holdings were produced by government agencies. There are some cases, however, when an agency acquired outside films for essential functions, like when the Department of Justice uses film as evidence in a federal trial or when source material is collected for an investigation like Project Blue Book. In these cases, the acquired films become a record of the activities of that agency.