National Public Radio
Story On Project GRUDGE
From Bruce Maccabee <>
From UFO UpDates-Toronto <>
The following was reported on National Public Radio, "Stardate" from the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dec, 28 1999
Project GRUDGE
In many ways, the late 1940s have never left us. Those booming post-war years brought us everything from Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and prepared cake mixes, to television and bikini bathing suits. The late '40s also brought a new phenomenon in the skies that's still around: flying saucers. Government agencies quickly tried to quell the fuss over unidentified flying objects. One of the earliest UFO studies ended 50 years ago this week. Called Project GRUDGE, it was conducted by the United States Air Force. It found no evidence that UFOs were alien spaceships.
The flying-saucer craze started in June of 1947, when private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine flying discs near Seattle. Over the next few months, Americans reported hundreds of saucer sightings enough for the newly formed U.S. Air Force to study them.
The first study group, Project SIGN, said it couldn't rule out the possibility that some of the saucer sightings were extraterrestrial spacecraft. But Air Force officials dumped the report and convened another group, Project GRUDGE. It studied dozens of sightings, and said they could all be explained - as astronomical objects, aircraft, or tricks of nature. The project ended on December 27th, 1949.
Despite the report, saucer sightings continued. The Air Force conducted another study later on with the same results. Even so, flying saucers remain a popular topic more than half a century after they first entered American culture.
Written by Damond Benningfield; 1999 Damond Benningfield StarDate 1999 The University of Texas McDonald Observatory
December 28, 1999
Dear Mr. Benningfield:
I happened to hear your report on the 50th anniversary of the Project Grudge flying saucer report on the National Public Radio show, "Stardate," this evening.
As a long time researcher of the history of the UFO subject and related government activities I was both amused and disappointed to see that what you have written might lead the reader to think that Project Grudge was a credible, even scientific, investigation of the subject of flying saucers (or UFOs).The Project Grudge report was not considered scientific even by the man who was in charge of Air Force Intelligence when the report was written, General Charles Cabell.According to Capt. Edward Ruppelt (the first director of Project Blue Book), in September 1951 Cabell referred to the Grudge report as the "most poorly written, unconclusive piece of unscientific tripe" that he had ever seen. Ruppelt wrote in his book, "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" that in compiling the report the analysts found about 50 sightings that had not been explained by Project Sign, the predecessor to Grudge.In order to be able to say that all sightings could be explained the Grudge analysts "force fitted" explanations to these unexplained sightings.
Consider the following information abstracted from my forthcoming book (to be published in May), "The UFO-FBI Connection:" ...... the 600 page Grudge report was unconvincing. There were too many poor or just plain wrong explanations. Instead, of making the saucer problem go away it merely increased the confusion over what really was going on.
According to the report, Project Grudge had carefully studied 237 sightings which was 33 fewer than Project Saucer (Project Sign, which had studied 240 domestic and 30 foreign sightings for a total of 270). From this the press may have concluded that Project Grudge had received no new reports from early spring, 1949 through December, 1949. This conclusion was false, of course. The Project Blue Book master list shows that Grudge received 250 sighting reports between May 1 and December 31 and 446 for the whole year. The reason that analyses of these sightings did not appear in the final report is simply that the Grudge personnel felt it to be a waste of time because the newer reports were similar to the older ones. The press reporters did not know about all of these new sightings, of course, since this information was not released until years later.
The Air Force had told the press that all sightings could be explained and proclaimed that the Grudge report would prove it.Although on the face of it the final report did seem to support this claim, astute reporters were not convinced. The report showed that, with the help of Dr. Hynek, the consultant in astronomy (in 1973 he founded the Center for UFO Studies), they had been able identify 32% as astronomical.With the help of experts at the Air Force Weather Service and Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory the Grudge personnel identified 12 % as sightings of weather balloons or high altitude Skyhook balloons.The Grudge personnel and the expert consultants further concluded that about 33% were hoaxes or had insufficient information for evaluation. That meant that the expert consultants could not offer explanations for 23% of the sightings (55 out of the 237). This did not stop the Grudge analysts, however.The last of several appendicies to the Grudge report included the official explanations for the unexplained sightings!
This appendix created a big problem for the Air Force because members of the press who read it were not convinced. The explanations seemed at the very least, strained, and in some cases simply wrong. Ruppelt, in The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, cited one good example of the approach to explaining these reports.In a 1948 report, which was analyzed by Dr. Hynek and the Air Weather Service, an Air Force pilot had reported seeing a glowing white light over Andrews AFB. He chased it for ten minutes as it went through some turning maneuvers before it finally headed for the coast. He did manage to get a glimpse of a dark oval object smaller than his airplane. "I couldnt tell if the light was on the object or if the whole object had been glowing," he reported. Witnesses on the ground concurred with the pilots report: they had seen the light and the airplane chasing it.Hynek reported it was not astronomical and the Air Weather service reported that it was not a balloon. This didn't stop the Grudge personnel: the official explanation was.... a balloon!
Ruppelt illustrated the press reaction to the Grudge explanations by referring to a conversation he had several years later with one of the reporters who had gotten a copy of the report. He said the report had been quite impressive, but only in its ambiguousness, illogical reasoning and very apparent effort to write off all UFO reports at any cost. He personally thought that it was a poor attempt to put out a fake report full of misleading information, to cover up the real story.
Projects Sign and Grudge were not the only Air Force investigations which failed to provide acceptable explanations for all sightings.When Project Blue Book (1952-1969) closed almost exactly 20 years after Grudge there were still about 700 sightings unexplained.During the time period 1966-1969 a study was carried out at the University of Colorado directed by Dr. Edward Condon.That study left unexplained about 1/3 of the nearly 100 sightings they investigated.
The Air Force knew, at least by 1952, that there were unexplainable sightings, sightings with an "extraterrestrial overtone."On July 29, 1952, a Navy officer working in the office of the Director of Air Force Intelligence told the FBI that 3% of the sightings could not be explained and that "it is not entirely impossible that the objects sighted might be ships from another planet...."Several months later Air Force intelligence told the FBI that "some military officials are seriously considering the possibility of interplanetary ships."According to Ruppelt, some of these "military officials" were Air Force generals.
It is of particular importance to the subject of UFO research that there are sightings which remain unexplained after careful analysis.These are sightings which cannot be categorized as misidentifications of known phenomena (stars, planets, meteors, airplanes, birds, etc.) or delusions or hoaxes.These unexplainable sightings are from credible observers (sometimes multiple observers, sometimes radar and photography is involved) and the sighting details simply conflict with all known phenomena, including natural and manmade phenomena seen under unusual conditions. That there are such sightings was recognized early by the Air Force and the percentage of unexplained sightings was quantified during the Battelle Memorial Institute study that was published in 1955.Of the 3201 sightings (that occurred between June 1947 and December 1952) studied, about 1/5 were unexplained.Of more importance is the fact that when the sightings were divided into reliability (credibility) groups, the most reliable group had the highest percentage of unexplained sightings (33%). This is not what one would expect if sightings were all misidentifications, hoaxes and delusions.
In the last 20 years documents have been released by various government agencies, including the Air Force and the FBI, which show how poorly the Air Force analysts treated the UFO problem 50 years ago. So let bygones be bygones. As Project Grudge slips into the dustbin of history, let us look to more recent investigations such as the COMETA report released in France last summer.(This has been discussed on the internet and in UFO magazines... although hardly if at all mentioned by the mainstream press....and so I won't summarize it here.) That report takes into account much new as well as old information that was not available to the Grudge analysts.In the information collected over the last 50 years, the COMETA investigators found ample reason to treat the UFO problem much more seriously than does your Stardate presentation.
I thank you for calling this bit of history to our attention, however, because it is always well to know where we have been in order to know where we should not go.
Bruce Maccabe


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