Unsealed: Alien Files (2012–…): Season 4, Episode 2 - The 1952 Wave - full transcript

In the spring of 1952, UFO sightings go off the charts. For years, the U.S. government has told the postwar public that UFOs do not exist, but behind the scenes, U.S. Air Force officials are divided.

[narrator] In the spring of 1952,
something extraordinary happens.

UFO sightings go off the charts.

For years, the US government
has told the post-war public

that UFOs do not exist.

But secretly,
US Air Force commanders are divided.

Some air force personnel believe

the sightings are
explainable atmospheric phenomena,

but others wonder if we have been visited

by a more technologically advanced
alien civilization.

Join us as we investigate
the 1952 UFO wave,

a spike in sightings so extreme

that the US government is forced
to confront the UFO phenomenon head on.

A global effort has begun.

Secret files
hidden from the public for decades

detailing every UFO account
are now available to the public.

We are about to uncover the truth
behind these classified documents.

Find out what the government
doesn't want you to know.

Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secrets
on planet Earth.

July 29, 1952.

Major General John Samford,

the director of Intelligence
for the US Air Force,

holds the largest press conference
since World War II.

The reason...

I am here to discuss
the so-called flying saucers.

The Air Force's interest in this problem

has been due to our feeling
of an obligation

to identify and analyze
to the best of our ability

anything in the air
that may have the possibility

of threat or menace
to the United States.

[narrator] Throughout the spring
and summer of 1952,

there are more reported
UFO sightings in the US

than at any other time in history.

The public knows it,
and Samford tries to calm their nerves.

Of this great mass of reports,

we have been able adequately
to explain the great bulk of them.

[narrator] But what about
the hundreds of UFO sightings

that radar and eyewitnesses
cannot explain?

To understand arguably
the most unique year

in modern UFO history,

we must go back to the beginning.

1952 begins with fewer than one
reported UFO sighting per day.

By April and May,
sightings increase to three per day.

Then, in June, the rate
of reported sightings doubles,

and they have yet to peak.

This was orders of magnitude
beyond anything

that the American military
had seen before.

It took the UFO phenomenon
to a completely new level.

[narrator] From July 22nd to July 29th,
UFO sightings spiked to 27 per day.

The sighting spike is considerable.

So, you have to ask
what exactly was going on in the nation.

[narrator] The Air Force
is gravely concerned.

Their job is to patrol the skies,

but something is happening
that they cannot explain.

Unsealed case file:
the Hawaii sighting.

March 1952.

Navy Secretary Dan Kimball
and Admiral Radford

are flying in separate planes over Guam
en route to Hawaii.

During the course of this flight,
Kimball and Radford looked out the window

and saw an unidentified flying object
that they couldn't explain.

As they watched this object,
they said it streaked across the sky.

[narrator] Air Force insider
and co-founder

of the National Investigations Committee
on Aerial Phenomena,

Major Donald Keyhoe,
reports Kimball as saying,

"The object circled us twice
and then took off heading East.

There was another navy plane behind us
with Admiral Arthur Radford on board."

Kimball reports, in almost no time,
Radford's chief pilot called back.

The UFOs were now circling their plane.

They estimated it actually covered
a distance of about 50 miles

in less than two minutes.

The UFO eventually took off
and disappeared

and was no longer in sight.

[narrator] When he inquires
about the status of the investigation,

he receives a surprising response.

He was actually denied access.

The Air Force said that they could not,
uh, disclose to the eyewitness

what the status was of the case.

[narrator] One month later,
on April 29, 1952, history is made.

Unsealed case file:
AFL 200-5.

Air Force Letter 200-5
is a landmark Air Force directive

stating that all UFO reports
must be wired immediately

to Air Technical Intelligence Command,
the home of Project Blue Book.

They talked about the urgent need
to use electronic means of reporting,

really, within a day, but secondly,
not to talk about these things

to the media and to the public.
So, right from the outset,

what we have is this veil of secrecy

surrounding military encounters with UFOs.

[narrator] AFL 200-5
authorizes Project Blue Book

to investigate UFO sightings
made by Air Force personnel

without the need of going through
any chain of command.

This all-access pass is highly unusual

and underscores
the urgency of the situation.

In the spring of 1952,

the United States Air Force responds to
mounting UFO Sightings across the country

by giving Project Blue Book
unprecedented access to investigate UFOs.

Its mission, to investigate UFO reports
from civilians and military personnel,

and determine if UFOs
are a threat to the nation,

and to identify them.

Air Force officer Edward Ruppelt,

stationed at Ohio's
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,

is appointed to lead Project Blue Book.

So, this was the guy in day-to-day charge
of investigating the sightings

reported to the government
and the military.

Although, he still accepted
anecdotal accounts

and reports from the public,

the whole focus of Project Blue Book
was effectively reconfigured

on pilot sightings and on radar cases.

[narrator] But one case
in July of 1952 confounds him.

Unsealed case file:
the Tremonton film.

July 2, 1952.

Navy warrant officer D.C. Newhouse
is driving through Utah with his wife

when they notice
a strange group of objects in the sky.

They stop the car to get a better look
and cannot believe their eyes.

A group of 10 to 12 objects overhead
are flying in a westerly direction.

There were multiple objects
that were seen flying through the sky

that were not
like any conventional aircraft

that anyone had ever seen.

[narrator] Newhouse later describes
the objects as shaped like two saucers,

one inverted on top of the other.

He runs to the trunk of his car
and grabs his 16-millimeter camera

just in time to shoot
this compelling film.

[Steve Murillo] Every now and then,

you'll see, sort of,
like an implied constellation of stars.

So, there seems to be some sort
of a communication going on there.

What's interesting is that
that sort of sighting,

uh, occurs even now
in the skies over the United States,

and people film it.

[narrator] Ruppelt later writes
about Newhouse in his 1956 book,

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects,

saying, "When he and his family
first saw the UFOs,

they were close to the car,
much closer than when he took the movie."

The Tremonton Newhouse film
was shot by a witness that saw

what can only be described
as a fleet of UFOs in the sky.

I love those cases
because they were the kind

that you can't really fake.
You know what I mean?

They come from the old school,

and, uh, they--they haven't been
put up on a Photoshop

or some sort of video editing and--
and made. They're actually real.

[narrator] Four years later,

Project Blue Book analyzes the footage
and issues a report.

They wanted to try
and explain it away as balloons,

which sounds like a viable explanation.

Unfortunately, they could never prove it.

So, it went on the books
as a true unknown.

[narrator] And even more disturbing,
it looked eerily similar

to a famous sighting
just two years earlier.

Unsealed case file:
the Mariana film.

August 1950,

Great Falls, Montana.

While inspecting a local baseball stadium
with his secretary,

Nick Mariana sees something flash
out of the corner of his eye.

Two bright silver objects
fly over Great Falls.

This really depicted, again,
multiple objects in the sky.

[narrator] He grabs his camera
from his car

and shoots this 16 seconds of film.

The next day, The Great Falls Tribune
carries the story,

and in the weeks to come,

Mariana shares his film
at several local screenings.

But the Air Force considers
the objects on the Mariana film

to be two of their own.

After the witness got their film back
from the United States Air Force,

they claimed that they were missing frames
from the footage, like it was cut out.

Cover-up by the United States Air Force.

[narrator] Mariana claims
the frames clearly showed silver disks.

The Air Force denies the allegations.

But many in Great Falls who witnessed
the original film support Mariana's claim.

So, the question is, if that's true,
what are they covering up?

[narrator] In July of 1952,
two years after the Mariana film,

Captain Ruppelt,
head of Project Blue Book,

requests to re-analyze the footage.

The original analysis
that the objects in the sky

were reflections
from F-94 jets is dismissed.

Ruppelt states, "The lights appeared
too steady to be reflections.

We drew a blank on the Montana movie.
It was an unknown."

The controversy over the missing frames
is never resolved.

Could this be truly evidence
of, uh, alien craft in the sky,

and so they wanted to kind of omit
that section that really drove it home?

Or was this top secret technology that
the Air Force didn't want this guy to have

and said, "Well,
you can't really discern it here,

but you can through frames
10 through whatever" and snipped that out?

By early July 1952,

UFO sightings dramatically increase
across North America

forcing the US Air Force
to make UFO investigation a top priority.

But nothing could prepare them

for what occurs over the most
heavily guarded air space in the world,

the nation's capital.

Unsealed case file:
the Washington, DC Flap.

On July 19, 1952,

an air traffic controller
at Washington National Airport

picks up seven objects on radar.

He later describes them
as completely radical

compared to ordinary aircraft.

Headlines the next day read,
"Saucers Swarm the Capitol."

On July 26th, a National Airlines flight
reports more UFOs.

Andrews Air Force Base
tracks them on radar.

Witnesses describe the lights as traveling
faster than any shooting star.

By July 29th, the Air Force
issues an unprecedented shoot-down order.

The Washington Post writes,

"No pilot has been able
to get close enough to take a shot,

as the objects are outflying the jets
by a thousand miles an hour."

But exactly what is in the skies
above Washington, DC?

There's something in our skies.
It's faster than us.

It's more maneuverable than us.
We track them on radar.

We send our pilots up to try
and intercept them,

and yet they give us the slip.
What's going on in our skies?

[narrator] Are these UFOs
interplanetary ships from outer space?

Or is there another explanation?

With dozens of witnesses
and radar evidence,

the Air Force must calm an uneasy public.

July 29th, 1952.

General John Samford,
Director of Air Force Intelligence,

holds a press conference.

We've been able
to explain them as, uh, hoaxes,

as erroneously identified
friendly aircraft,

as meteorological or electronic phenomena,
or as light aberrations.

One of the explanations that was put forth
for this by the Air Force

was that this was caused
by a temperature inversion.

[narrator] But many in the UFO
and scientific communities

are unable to believe the explanation.

It is this group of observations
that we now are attempting to resolve.

[narrator] After Samford speaks,
Major Donald Keyhoe takes the microphone,

and what he says is shocking.

With all due respect
to the Air Force,

I believe that some of them will prove
to be of interplanetary origin.

[narrator] Just how much did
the government know,

and how far were they willing to go
to keep it from the public?

Unsealed case file:
the Robertson Panel.

January 1953.

After experiencing
an unprecedented surge in UFO sightings,

the CIA convenes the Robertson Panel.

The Robertson Panel

was a group of scientists,
radar experts, nuclear physicists,

uh, people that were
brought together by the CIA

to try and figure out
how to deal with the UFO problem.

[narrator] The head of Project Blue Book,
Captain Ruppelt,

presents cases
with the most compelling evidence.

Among them,
the Tremonton and Mariana Films.

But Ruppelt quickly realizes

the panel has already
come to their own conclusions.

The objective of the Robertson Panel

was already determined
before they stepped into that room

and started deliberating
what that evidence showed.

[narrator] After hearing just 12 hours
of testimony over three days,

The Robertson Panel's final conclusion

is that UFOs do not pose
a threat to national security,

and that the overwhelming majority
of sightings

can be explained by natural phenomena.

Many experts now look at
the documents and say,

"Well, they really weren't doing their job
as true investigators.

They were collecting these reports,
analyzing them,

and pretty much
dismissing them one at a time."

Weather balloon here, swamp gas there,
the planet Venus over here.

And they were just completely dismissing
anything that came in.

[narrator] Years later,

the secretary of the Robertson Panel,
CIA operative Frederick Durant,

reveals that the Robertson Panel

was not tasked
with investigating evidence,

but with "Establishing a protocol
for debunking UFO sighting claims."

If you've got a case

with a really obvious
conventional explanation,

publicize those cases,

and don't, whatever you do,
publicize the unknowns.

This is the strongest evidence
that Project Blue Book

and the 12,000-plus cases
that they investigated

is not necessarily an investigation,
but rather an explanation.

And the Robertson Panel
absolutely proves that.

The 1952 UFO wave shakes the nation,
and raises doubts

about the effectiveness of the US military
against unexplained threats.

But the US government denies
that the phenomena even exists.

It is inconceivable to me,

as somebody who served
in the Ministry of Defense for 21 years,

that one could receive credible reports,

and then, dismiss them without some form
of proper scientific investigation.

[narrator] Captain Edward Ruppelt,
the head of Project Blue Book,

is asked to brief Air Defense Command.

In the meeting, Ruppelt allegedly reveals

that based on a statistical breakdown
of over 1,000 sightings,

only 11% can be positively identified.

The remaining 89% are categorized as

probably identified,
possibly identified, and unknown.

It doesn't matter what these things are.

We need to calm the public down

because the real threat
could be society itself.

[narrator] Since the extraordinary surge
of UFO sightings in 1952,

the American government to this day
denies that it studies UFOs.

But some believe otherwise.

I am convinced that the government
continues to investigate UFOs,

but I suspect that they do it
through the third-party offices

of some defense contractor, hidden away,
uh, well away from public scrutiny.

[narrator] Without a central organization

to collect Information on UFO sightings
and investigate them,

no one knows how many UFO events
occur each year.

Will there be another 1952?

How will we know?

And will the government
even warn the public?

This is Unsealed: Alien Files,

exposing the biggest secret
on planet Earth.