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Project Blue Book unexplained cases summaries with witness names:

Year 1951:

The following paragraphs relate to Project Blue Book's unexplained cases list. For the US Air Force who conducted Project Blue Book, these are the cases that had no "ordinary" explanation.


Along with a short summary, the location and dates, the witness or witnesses name are given. This may surprize many readers, as these names have been censored from the files before they were archived and later available to the public under the FOIA.

Please read the reference information at the end of the page to learn how I found out the witness names. Please refer to my main page on Project Blue book for more information on this USAF project.

Navigation help:

The cases which I have further studied or documented are accompanied by links to the supplemental information. To keep the browsing time reasonably short, I have split the summaries in one file for every year, you need to click on the years underneath to read all the summaries:

Choose: 1947 1948 1949
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954
1955 1956 1957 1958 1959
1960 1961 1962 1963 1964
1965 1966 1967 1968 1969

Cases of the year 1951:

Jan. 8, 1951, South of Ft. Worth, Texas. 10:45 p.m:

Witnesses: Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Boggus, plus unidentified drivers and passengers in other cars stopped to watch.

Two groups of red and green lights in triangular formations were stationary and then moved.

Jan. 12, 1951, Ft. Benning, Georgia. 10 p.m:

Witness: U.S. Army 2nd Lt. A.C. Hale.

One light with a fan-shaped wake remained motionless like a star about 20 minutes and then sped away.

Jan 16, 1951, Artesia, New Mexico. Time unknown:

Witnesses: Two members of a balloon Project from the General Mills.

Aeronautical Research Laboratory, the manger of the Artesia Airport, and three pilots. The balloon crew was observing their 110' balloon at an altitude of 112,000' when a dull white, round object was spotted. It appeared larger than the balloon, but made no movement. Later, the balloon crew and the others saw two objects from the airport, flying side-by-side, they circled the balloon and flew away to the northeast. The second observation lasted about 40 seconds. Note: there is confusion over the date of this case, with some USAF records showing it as 1952, however, 1951 appears to be correct.

Feb. 1, 1951, Johnson Air Base, Japan. 5:10 p.m:

Witnesses: pilot and radar operator of F-82 night fighter. One amber light made three or four 360* turns to the right, reversed toward the F-82 and then climbed out of sight.

Feb. 21, 1951, Durban, South Africa. 4:55 a.m:

Witnesses: three men in a truck, several other persons, none named.

A dark red, torpedo-shaped object with darker center, flew straight and level.

Feb. 26, 1951, Ladd AFB, Alaska. 7:10 a.m:

Witness: USAF Sgt. J.B. Sells.

One dull grey, metallic object, estimated to be 120' long and 10-12' thick, hovered, puffed smoke and sped away after 1-1.5 minutes. Note: may have been Feb. 25.

Mar. 10, 1951, Chinnampo, Korea. 9:51 a.m:

Witnesses: crew of USAF B-29 bomber, including scanners and tail gunner.

A large red-yellow glow burst and became blue-white. No further information in files.

Mar. 13, 1951, McClellan AFB, California. 3:20 p.m:

Witnesses: USAF 1st Lt. B.J. Hastie, Mrs. Rafferty.

A cylinder with twin tails, 200' long and 90' wide, turned north and flew at incredible speed. Two minutes.

Mar. 15, 1951, New Delhi, India. 10:20 a.m:

Witnesses: 25 members of a flying club, including the chief aerial engineer and his two assistants.

One metallic cigar-shaped object with white exhaust which turned black when it accelerated to an estimated 1,000 m.p.h. and made a large loop. Seven minutes.

June 1, 1951, Niagara Falls, New York. 4:20 a.m:

Witnesses: M/Sgt H.E. Sweeney, 2 enlisted men.

One glowing yellow-orange, saucer-shaped object with arc-shaped wings, flew straight up. Seen for 30-40 seconds.

July 24, 1951, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 7:10:

Witnesses: Hanscom AFB Operations Officer Capt. Cobb, Cpl. Fein.

One 100-200' tubular object, 5 times long as it was wide, with fins at one end, and colored greyish with many black spots. Flew 800-1,000 m.p.h. at 1-2,000' altitude, leaving a faint swath. 20 seconds.

Aug. 25, 1951, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 9:58 p.m:

Witnesses: Sandia Base Security Guard Hugh Young and wife.

A flying wing-shaped craft passed over their heads at an estimated 800-1,000' altitude with no sound. Size estimated at 1.5 times wingspan of B-36 bomber,or 350'. Dark, chordwise stripes on underside, and 6-8 pairs of soft, glowing lights on trailing edge of "wing". Speed estimated at 300-400 m.p.h., object seen for about 30 seconds.

See here for details.
Also here.

Aug. 31, Matador, Texas. 12:45 p.m:

Witnesses: Mrs. Tom Tilson, one or two other women, all apparently of excellent reputations.

One pear-shaped object with a length of a B-29 fuselage (100'), aluminum or silver with a port or some type of aperture on the side. It moved with smaller end forward, drifting slowly at about 150' altitude, then headed up in a circular fashion and out of sight after a few seconds.

See here for details.

Sept. 6, 1951, Claremont, California. 7:20 p.m (not really clear):

Witnesses: S/Sgt W.T. Smith, M/Sgt L.L. Duel (?).

Six orange lights in an irregular formation, flew straight and level into a coastal fog bank after 3-4 minutes.

Sept. 14, 1951, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada. 9:30 p.m:

Witnesses: T/Sgt W.B. Maupin, Cpl. J.W. Green.

Three objects tracked on radar. Two were on a collision course, then one evaded to the right upon the request, by radio, of one of the radar operators! No aircraft were known to be in the area. A third unidentified track then joined the first two. More than 15 minutes.

Oct. 2, 1951, Columbus, Ohio. 6 p.m:

Witness: Battelle Memorial Institute graduate physicist Howard Cross.

One bright oval with a clipped tail flew straight and level, fading into the distance after 1 minute.

Oct. 3, 1951, Kadena, Okinawa. 10:27 p.m:

Witnesses: radar operators Sgt. M.W. Watson and Pvt. Gonzales and one other Sergeant.

One large, sausage-shaped blip tracked at an estimated 4,800 m.p.h.

Oct. 9, 1951, Terre Haute, Indiana. 1:42 p.m:

Witness: CAA Chief Aircraft Communicator Roy Messmore at Hulman Municipal Airport.

One round silver object flew directly overhead, reaching the horizon in 15 seconds. Note: a very similar incident happened 3 minutes later near Paris, Illinois (15 miles NW) and was also listed as "unidentified" for several years, but was eventually reclassified.

See here for the Terre Haute sighting.

See here for the Paris sighting.

Oct. 11, 1951, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 6:30 a.m:

Witnesses: General Mills balloon researchers, including aeronautical engineer J.J. Kaliszewski, aerologist C.B. Moore, pilot Dick Reilly in the air, and Doug Smith on the ground.

The flight crew saw the first object, a brightly glowing one with a dark underside and a halo around it. The object arrived high and fast, then slowed and made slow climbing circles for about two minutes, and finally sped away to the east. Soon they saw another one, confirmed by ground observers using a theodolite, which sped across the sky. Total time first object was seen was 5 minutes, second was a few seconds.

See here for the first sighting.

See here for the second sighting.

Nov. 18, 1951, Washington, D.C. 3:20 a.m:

Witnesses: Crew of Capitol Airlines DC-4 Fliqht 610, Andrews AFB Senior air traffic controller Tom Selby.

One object with several lights, followed the DC-4 for about 20 minutes and then turned back.

Nov. 24, 1951, Mankato, Minnesota. 33:53 p.m:

Witnesses: USAF or ANG pilots W.H. Fairbrother and D.E. Stewart in P-51 Mustangs.

One milky white object shaped like Northrop flying wing (broad, slightly swept-back wing with no fuselage or tail). Estimated 8' span. Flew straight and level for 5 seconds.

Dec. 7, 1951, Sunbury, Ohio. 4:30 p.m:

Witness: amateur astronomer Carl Loar. One silvery sphere seen through telescope.

Two specks sighted at sides, object seemed to explode and was replaced by a dark cloud and many specks. 30 minutes.

Dec. 7, 1951, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. 8:15 a.m:

Witness: Atomic Energy Commission guard J.H. Collins.

One 20' square object, white-grey but not shiny flew above ridge to clouds and back again twice, taking 30-40 seconds each time.

Short discussion and comments:

"Unidentified" says a great deal... and it says almost nothing.

Probably the most controversial aspect of the entire Air Force investigation of UFOs was its handling of individual cases.

The means by which one case was determined to be "identified" and another "unidentified" has no doubt fueled more arguments about Project Blue Book than anything else it did.

For many years, Blue Book's most vocal opponents have insisted that the standards by which cases were allegedly explained were grossly unscientific. Blue Book's goal, according to those who held it low esteem, was to attach some explanation to every case, regardless of logic or common sense. Examples of Blue Book saying a violently maneuvering disc was an aircraft, or of blaming a puzzling radar tracking on a supposedly malfunctioning radar set which it never bothered to check out, are numerous in the popular UFO literature.

And they are even more numerous in the files of Project Blue Book. The urgency with which Blue Book officials tagged answers onto cases without having done the proper investigation is obvious, though not proven. But if the Air Force was so eager to label cases "identified", despite the lack of supporting evidence, then those few cases which it labeled "unidentified" presumably withstood every attempt to apply every other kind of label. And so it may be that those cases are truly unidentifiable in familiar terms.

Indeed, the Air Force defines "unidentifiable" cases as those which "apparently contain all pertinent data necessary to suggest a valid hypothesis concerning the lack of explanation of the report, but the description of the object or its motion cannot be correlated with any known object or phenomenon."

To meet such criteria, a report must obviously come from a reputable source, and it must not bear any resemblance to airplanes, balloons, helicopters, spacecraft, birds, clouds, stars, planets, meteors, comets, electrical phenomena, or anything else known to frequent the air, the sky, or nearby space.

Unfortunately, the Air Force failed to stick to its own rules. Some of the "unidentifiable" cases most certainly can be correlated with known objects or phenomena. But most of them cannot. Moreover, many of the so-called "identified" cases cannot honestly be so correlated. But we are primarily concerned here with those cases which Project Blue Book openly admits it tried to explain and failed.

The amount of detail in these cases varies enormously. Some cases - frequently those which were well publicized at the time of the event - contain considerable information, while others are vague and seriously incomplete. Project Blue Book generally placed the blame for such incompleteness on the witnesses, but it should take its own share of the responsibility. In thousands of cases, there is no completed questionnaire in the Project files, nor even any indication that one was sent to the witness. And in most of the instances where a questionnaire was filled out, it was never followed up to get more complete answers to questions which the witnesses failed to deal with properly. For much of the life of Project Blue Book and its predecessors, there was no satisfactory questionnaire at all. And one of those used for a lengthy period was so badly organized that a witness should not be held to blame for giving incomplete answers.

Yet, despite all the roadblocks, many reports are sufficiently complete to tell a pretty clear story of a puzzling experience. With this data now available, anyone can look at Project Blue Book's "unidentified" UFO reports and make up his own mind.


The above case summaries are from the work of Don Berliner, who compiled a listing of the Project Bluebook "unknowns". In January, 1974, he visited the U.S. Air Force Archives at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama, to review the files of Project Blue Book as the first step toward writing a book on the subject.

In a full week, he read all the "unexplained" cases in the original files and made extensive notes, including the names and other identifying information on all witnesses where given. The cooperation of the staff of the Archives was excellent, and no restrictions were placed on his work.

A few months later, the files were withdrawn from public view so they could be prepared for transfer to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. This process involved making a Xerox copy of almost 30 file drawers of material, blacking out the names and other identifiers of all witnesses, and then microfilming the censored Xerox copy. The microfilm has been available to the public at the National Archives since 1976. The original Project Blue Book files remain under lock and key at the Archives.

On almost every page of the 12,000+ case files, there are big black marks where information that could be used to cross-check Project Blue Book's controversial work has been censored.

This includes the names of witnesses to widely-publicized cases, and even names in newspaper clippings!

As it was perfectly legal for him to copy witness' names when he visited the Air Force Archives, those names can be found in this report of 585 (less 13 missing) unexplained cases. And since the Privacy Act, which motivated the Air Force to censor the files in the first place, does not apply to reporters or anyone else outside the Government, they can be used as the reader pleases.

Inasmuch as the book he planned to write has never further than the manuscript stage, he saw no reason to keep this information under wraps any longer, thinking that perhaps it will encourage others to re-investigate cases and make the results known.

This is why I published here all the summaries of these more than 700 cases, and publish a French translation for the French speaking UFO researchers.

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This page was last updated on June 30, 2001.