Nick Redfern's Interesting Article on an Air Force Cover Up, But Not the Kind You Think
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!
2/9/2015 07:31:35 am
It's funny to me how little interest Nick Redfern takes in the pop culture aspect of the UFO phenomenon. You get things like the part in his Roswell book where a "witness" basically paraphrases a speech by a character from the X-Files, and Redfern seems none the wiser. Or in the article under discussion, where he says there's nothing "particularly interesting" about the movie, and that it's one many "alien-themed" movies of the 1950s. Except it is particularly interesting -- it's the first feature film about flying saucers, which is certainly of interest -- and it isn't alien-themed, as the saucer in the movie is the secret invention of a very human scientist. Understanding that this movie was made before the "alien spacecraft" hypothesis for the flying saucer phenomenon was well established in the public's mind does help explain the OSI's "eh, whatever" attitude a little better.
2/9/2015 08:20:53 am
The copyright claim is ridiculous. However, it doesn't matter much, since it's still available for free:
2/10/2015 04:39:28 am
Why would they agree to keep it quiet? Did he bribe someone? Were they embarrassed to be investigating a hoax? Or did they want the public to think there was something to it to justify their jobs?
2/10/2015 08:04:48 am
The gist, as given in the documents, seems to be that once Conrad admitted to them that the footage of a "real" flying saucer didn't exist, the OSI simply decided they didn't have any jurisdiction because their mandate only extended to actual aircraft. And Conrad convinced them not to say anything about it being a hoax if asked because it would hurt his movie financially. I doubt any bribery was involved because, frankly, if Conrad had enough money to bribe anyone he should have put it into his movie instead. Remember, the whole incident was about trying to get *free* publicity. The Flying Saucer is a very, very cheap film.
2/27/2015 07:47:12 am
Jason, Fold3 is not claiming a copyright on the Blue Book material. The Black Vault and John Greenewald datamined Fold3 and took their Blue Book files and merely reposted them on his Black Vault site. Fold3 is not claiming ownership of the Project Blue Book files, merely their scans of the Blue Book material. The whole thing was a grandstanding ploy by John Greenewald and it worked, he had the media believing that he got the Blue Book files declassified and that his site was the first time the material had ever been published online. The Blue Book files had in fact been online at Fold3 since 2007. John Greenewald is a fraud and a huckster.
6/5/2015 05:41:34 am
You Colavito are the personification of a little prick ass BITCH who works for a corrupted academic system pretending to have it all figured out. I hope you choke on your own puke you fat, dorky, little attention seeking BITCH in the flesh.
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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