Project Blue Book was the official government organization tasked with investigating UFO sightings across the United States. Formally created in 1952, it handled roughly 12,000 sightings of potential UFOs and brought together a team of scientists and military personnel. The project was discontinued in 1969, and a number of its records were later declassified.
Project Blue Book was a secret government project that seem to confirm every conspiracy theorist's suspicions: the government did have secret task forces investigating extraterrestrials, and its findings were kept secret from the public. What's more, Blue Book was created at a time when UFO sightings had escalated to the point of mass hysteria starting in 1947-Kenneth Arnold's famed encounter with a V-shaped formation of lights over Mount Rainier became the impetus for Project Blue Book's inception. The US Air Force also worked with an experimental flying saucer, called the Avrocar.
Project Blue Book investigated a number of high-profile UFO cases, including the Lubbock Lights. The scientific consultant and astronomer for the Project, J. Allen Hynek, also codified the "Close Encounter" categories-the basis for the title of the sci-fi movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Under Captain Edward Ruppelt, the organization coined the term "Unidentified Flying Object" and attempted to create more rigorous reporting methods for UFO sightings. As the Project progressed, the majority of sightings were determined to have mundane explanations, but a small number were deemed genuinely unexplainable.
In the summer of 1952, Project Blue Book was brought before the Robertson Panel, which was meant to assess the Project and its findings. According to a memorandum, the members of the Panel were unimpressed with the Project's results and mandated that its primary goal change to creating "an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of Inimical forces behind the phenomenon." This meant the goal of Project Blue Book had essentially changed from seriously investigating extraterrestrials to convincing the public that UFO sightings were anything but extraterrestrial.
After changing leadership multiple times and meeting with harsh criticism from outside observers, including accusations by NICAP (The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) that the group's main goal was covering up UFO encounters, the Project was ultimately shut down, leaving behind a legacy of unanswered questions and widespread suspicion.