The Inspector General Brief
Number 21, Volume XVIII, 14 October 1966
UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS (UFOs)
Base commanders, and their information and operations personnel, should review AFR 80-17, 19 September 1966, to assure familiarity with their responsibilities in the event they receive an inquiry concerning UFOs, or a notice of sighting. Air Force interest in UFOs is two-fold: to determine if the UFO is a possible threat to the United States and to use the scientific or technical data gained from study of UFO reports. To attain these objectives, it is necessary to explain or identify the factor that caused the observation to be reported as an unidentified flying object – i.e., any aerial phenomenon or object which is unknown or appears out of the ordinary to the observer.
Successful identification of UFOs requires prompt, accurate reporting and rapid evaluation of data. Any AF base which receives notice of a sighting in its vicinity must be ready to conduct an immediate investigation. Personnel who may receive the initial call, whether in operations or other base organizations, should be familiar with the local procedures established for carrying out the base's responsibilities to screen, evaluate and report the information. Selection of the individual to serve as UFO investigating officer is a key item in implementing these responsibilities. The commander should consider carefully the scientific and technical backgrounds and previous investigating experience of all available personnel, base his choice on qualifications for gathering and evaluating the data required by AFR 80-17. Prompt on-the-spot surveys and follow-ups by the base investigator are vital for complete case information. His report must be immediate, detailed, accurate, and objective. He must make every effort to obtain pertinent data, test all leads, clues, and hypotheses, so that he will have the best possible basis for his analysis and comments in the concluding paragraph of the report.
All personnel who may have contact with the public concerning UFO matters should be made aware of the importance of proper responses, particularly in connection with sightings which are difficult to identify. They must not only comply with the instructions in AFR 80-17 for referral of inquiries to the office which is qualified to handle them, but must refrain from any action or comment which could cause misunderstanding, either as to the UFO program or a particular case.
The number of UFO sightings reported to the Air Force during FY 1966 was the largest of any year to date, surpassing the previous record number received in 1954. This statistic constitutes another reason why all bases should assure they have the necessary investigative capability and procedural instructions for responding to UFO notices and inquiries. (Briefing of AFR 80-17 is on page 15.)
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