Congressional Hearings on UFOs and Blue Book

There have only ever been two official Congressional Hearings held on UFOs. The House Armed Services Committee convened the first such hearing in 1966 in response to widely publicized UFO sightings and repeated public and media criticism of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book. The hearing had the noted support of former U.S. President, Gerald Ford, the House Minority Leader. However, the only witnesses who testified were allied to Project Blue Book. As a result, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that there would be an outside, independent review of Blue Book. This was to be the genesis of the University of Colorado’s Scientific Study of UFOs –or the Condon Committee project (after Edward U. Condon), as it is popularly known. Two years later, the House Science and Astronautics Committee convened a second hearing (which occurred during the final stages of the Condon Committee project) to review the scientific evidence for UFOs. It took the form of a scientific symposium in which six scientists testified and six others submitted prepared papers

In 1969, the Condon Committee published its findings. According to the director of the project, physicist Dr. Edward U. Condon, no scientific evidence existed in support of a genuine UFO mystery for UFO. The result? It was recommended that Project Blue Book should be terminated. Critics of the Condon Report have noted, however, that no less than 30 per cent of the cases investigated by the committee defied explanation. According to the critics, such as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Dr. Condon’s conclusions were politically oriented rather than scientific: the Air Force wanted Blue Book closed at the earliest opportunity.

Nevertheless, of the six scientists who testified as part of the University of Colorado’s study, five were of the opinion that UFOs were still a valid area for investigation. Of those, the late Dr. James McDonald concluded: “My own study of the UFO problem has convinced me that we must rapidly escalate serious scientific attention to this extra- ordinarily intriguing puzzle.”

Following the release of the Condon Report, Project Blue Book was set for termination, with an announcement to that effect made in March 1969. A formal directive was finalized in December of that year by Air Force Secretary Robert C. Seamans, Jr. According to Seamans: “The continuation of Project Blue Book cannot be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.”

From the commencement of Project Sign to the conclusion of Project Blue Book, 12,618 UFO reports were analyzed. Of these, 18% (701 cases) were catalogued as unidentified – and nearly half of which dated from 1952. Since the close of Blue Book, the Air Force has constantly tried to distance itself from the UFO subject – publicly, at least. The Air Force’s current fact sheet on UFOs states that “since the termination of Project Blue Book, nothing has occurred that would support a resumption of UFO investigations by the Air Force.” Nevertheless, as the Freedom of Information Act has shown, official interest in the UFO subject continues – albeit at a restricted and far more covert level than that of Project Blue Book.