1957 CIA Memo Concerning UFO Report
- The CIA memorandum, the text of which is reproduced below, was located in the 1979
microfiche set of The Declassified Documents Catalog, published by Research
Publications, Inc., Woodbridge CT, available at Federal Deposit Libraries. It is an
interesting document for several reasons:
|* It mentions
interest in UFO at a very high level of the intelligence community, the Intelligence
Advisory Committee (IAC)
* It mentions what is possibly electromagnetic interference with multiple radars coincident with detection of a UFO
* It mentions action by elements of the military and intelligence communities very quickly after a UFO report
The memo, dated the 21st of September 1957, concerns the radar detection of a UFO over the state of New York the preceding day. An investigation by the Air Defense Command was begun, a briefing on the UFO was provided to members of the high level Intelligence Advisory Committee, and this memo was issued during the single day after the event. This very quick action is not only a testimonial to the efficiency of Cold War reporting systems, but also shows the amount of interest solid UFO detections generated at high levels of the military and intelligence community.
Obviously, the major interest in unidentified airborne objects shown by the memo was whether or not the unidentified radar tracks were possibly Soviet in origin, and therefore represented a major advance in aircraft or missile design. The conclusion: not Soviet.
We do have the results of the Air Defense Command investigation mentioned in the memo, but the statement, "... weather phenomena are increasingly likely explanations of the original reports..." probably indicate the conclusions of the ADC investigation. Interesting that the ADC, Air Force, CIA and (some members of) the IAC were excited about the radar detections of a UFO over the US, but accepted that the radar operators could be fooled by weather, the effects of which had been extensively studied.
In an article which appeared in the unclassified issue of The Central Intelligence Agency's publication, Studies in Intelligence, (Semiannual Edition, No. 1, 1997), Gerald K. Haines, a historian with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), titled A Die-Hard Issue: CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90, asserted that, "over half of all UFO reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance" utilizing U-2 and SR-71 aircraft. Could this detection have been one of these? Even though the U-2 spy plane was operational in 1957, having made its first flight in August 1955, began operational service in 1956, and apparently could fly at the altitude given in the memo, we'd have to say no. The Acting Director of the CIA certainly would be aware of the U-2 surveillance program. In the above mentioned article, Haines asserts that relatively low-level Air force Project Blue Book staff, "...by checking with the Agency's U-2 Project Staff in Washington, ...were able to attribute many UFO sightings to U-2 flights. This implies coordination and disclosure of U-2 flight times and locations to the Air Force be the CIA, although Haines does not provide any examples of this coordination. Additionally, it seems reasonable that The IAC, or at lease some members of it, would have been aware of the U-2 program, functioning as it did at the National Security Council level, and being charged with coordination of intelligence among the member agencies.
Electromagnetic effects coincident with the presence of UFOs, even at such high altitudes has been a feature of many UFO reports ever since the "Foo-Fighter" reports of the Second World War. In this memo the interference encountered was widespread and characterized as "jamming," something which should have been of great concern to the military. In this case, an unidentified object is over the US, is detected by some radars and tracked, but cannot be identified, and several other radars which should have been able to provide more complete tracking were "jammed." Note that the implication is that more than one radar set over a large geographical area was rendered ineffective simultaneously. Furthermore, the term "jamming" implies an action performed by choice: "To make the transmission of a radio unintelligible; to make a radio or radar set ineffective, either by use of countertransmissions or by the use of a confusion reflector."  The memo does mention that SAC B-47 aircraft were conducting Electronic counter Measures training flights at the time. Is this to imply that the transmissions from these aircraft affected our own radars and rendered them ineffective? This seems beyond belief.
Incidently, this sighting does not appear in the list of Project Blue Book unidentified sightings. We do not have access to the full Blue Book files, so we cannot say whether or not this UFO incident was reported to Blue Book or not. A sighting of an oval, glowing object by military personnel did, however, occur on September 20, but over the Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa; this sighting is one of the Blue book unidentified cases..
 The United States Air Force Dictionary, Woodford Agee Heflin, Editor,
Research Studies Institute,