Friday, June 4, 2021

Pentagon UFO Report 1952: We Can Do Nothing

In July 1952, the US Air Force held a major press conference to tell the public what they knew about flying saucers. Project Blue Book director Capt. Edward Ruppelt participated, and he later wrote:

“Prodded by the hubbub over the Washington flare-up and by the record crop of sightings, the Air Force called a press conference on July 29 at the Pentagon. Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, Air Force director of intelligence, went up against the biggest assemblage of newspapermen to turn out for an Air Force conference since World War II. He was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey, director of operations, and four technical men from ATIC-Col. Donald Bower, Capt. Roy James, Burgoyne Griffing, and myself.”

From left: Capt. R. L. James, radar expert; Maj. Gen. Roger Ramey, deputy chief for operations; Capt. Edward Ruppelt; Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, air intelligence chief; Col. Donald L. Bowan, and civilian expert Burgoyne L. Griffing.

While not a formal report, Gen. Samford’s remarks addressed public concerns, updating them on the Washington reports and also addressing the larger UFO problem. Samford assured the public that UFOs were not a threat, admitted that reports of UFOs go back to ancient times, and that 20% of UFO reports remain unexplained. Taking questions from reporters afterward, he also addressed the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin for UFOs.

Excerpts from Gen. Samford's remarks:

The Air Force feels a very definite obligation to identify and analyze things that happen in the air that may have in them menace to. the United States and… since 1947, we have an activity that was known one time as Project Saucer and now, as part of another more stable and integrated organization, have, undertaken to analyze between a thousand and two thousand reports dealing with this area. And out of that mass of reports that we've received we've been able to take things which were originally unidentified and dispose of them to our satisfaction…

However, there have remained a percentage of this total, in the order of twenty percent of the reports, that have come from credible observers of relatively incredible things. And because of these things not being possible for us to move along and associate with the kind of things that we’ve found can be associated with the bulk of these reports, we keep on being concerned about them.

We know that reports of this kind go back to Biblical times. There have been flurries of them in various centuries. 1846 seems to have had a time when there was quite a flurry of reporting of this kind. Our current series of reports goes back, generally, to 1946 in which things of this kind were reported in Sweden.

So our present course of action is to with the best of our ability, giving to it the attention that we feel it very definitely warrants… if it turns out to be that, menace to the United States to give it adequate attention but not frantic attention.

After that, Samford took questions from the press, and much of his responses focusing on how UFOs were often misidentified objects, and how sometimes clouds or birds caused false radar returns. Pressed for an answer about what UFOs could be, Samford said,

“I think that the highest probability is that these are phenomena associated with the intellectual and scientific interests that we are on the road to learn more about but that there is nothing in them that is associated with material or vehicles or missiles that are directed against the United States.”

A reporter asked if UFOs could be extraterrestrial in origin, “some other planet violating our air space.” Samford replied, “The astronomers are our best advisers, of course, in this business of visitors from elsewhere. [Examining the data at hand,] It doesn't cause them to have any enthusiasm whatsoever in thinking about this other side of it.”

In the final question, a reporter asked, “General, are sightings from military personnel made public generally, or are they –"

Samford cut him off, saying, “There's no reason why they shouldn't be.”  

Video clip from the conference

Was This UFO Disclosure?

Gen.Samford did not give the definite answers that many wanted, but through him, the US government essentially disclosed that UFOs are real, they've been here throughout history, and they are apparently not a menace. Science, he thought, might someday learn more about the phenomena. Gen. Samford did not explicitly state there was nothing the Air Force could do about UFOs, but he said they would keep watching.

The full text of the press conference can be read at the link below. A particularly interesting section was when Gen. Samford passed a tricky question on to Capt. Ruppelt. A reporter asked, "Isn't it true, sir, that [reports] show a definite grouping, the sightings around atomic bomb plants or areas?"

39-page PDF made from Capt. Edward Ruppelt's copy:

Single pages from the files of Project Blue Book at Fold 3: 


  1. Very good article Curt. In this case though we're about to see something equivalent to what happened after the launch of Sputnik I.

  2. One has to admire the caliber of those reporters. Great questions and insistent follow-ups. Thank you for making this available.


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