Due to the snowstorm today and my normal heavy Monday workload, I unfortunately need to keep today’s blog post brief so I can head out to shovel again. As of noon today, the piles of shoveled snow reached just about six feet in front of my house due to a combination of heavy snowfall, wide sidewalks, and a very small yard. Then the plow came by and locked me in with a three foot high, foot-deep wall of snow across the driveway.
Let me offer praise where praise is due. Nick Redfern had a somewhat interesting article at Mysterious Universe in which he tells the story of Mikel Conrad, the star, producer, and director of The Flying Saucer, a 1950 film that sought to capitalize on the nascent UFO movement. According to declassified Air Force files, in the run up to the film’s release Conrad falsely claimed to have had genuine UFO footage, and finally admitted under Air Force questioning that he made the story up as a publicity stunt to drive viewers to The Flying Saucer.
The Air Force and Conrad struck a deal to keep the truth from the public for publicity reasons. This ought to be the headline: The Air Force agreed to protect a UFO lie for business reasons! But Redfern is doesn’t quite see that as the most important part of the story.
I’d also like to fault Redfern or failing to tell us where to find the files that contain this information. The declassified Air Force UFO files run into the thousands of pages, and a link to the correct set of documents would have been helpful.
Sadly, the Black Vault database of Project Blue Book was taken down after Ancestry.com asserted that it owns the copyright (!) to the Air Force’s UFO files, an impossibility since by law United States government files cannot be copyrighted. Fortunately, the searchable Project Blue Book Archive is still up and running (at least until Ancestry.com tells them they own government records, too).
If you’re curious, here are the links to the relevant files (pp. 195-201) and more here (pp. 680-684), which Redfern declined to provide, probably because they show that his article contains very little original reporting and background research beyond searching IMDB. He also seems to have missed some interesting sidelights: The editor of The Film Daily set off the whole chain of events by contacting the Air Force to try to figure out of Conrad’s press release about having UFO footage was true! So, in short: The media contacted the Air Force, and the Air Force and the Office of Special Investigations agreed to lie to the media and abet a hoax “because OSI had no interest in his picture, since he had not actually sighted any unconventional object in the sky.” Awesome!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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