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Project Blue Book Episode 4 Review: Operation Paperclip

Alejandro Rojas                  January 30, 2019                          (denofgeek.com)

• Episode 4 of the History Channel series, Project Blue Book, is entitled “Operation Paperclip” and delves into the events in Huntsville, Alabama in the late 1950’s, when the former Nazi rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, was heading up the US military’s development of its own rocket weaponry. The show’s protagonist, J Allen Hynek, is led to Huntsville after he sees a UFO darting around his commercial airplane and his partner, Air Force Captain Michael Quinn, feels certain that it was a rocket from the Huntsville base. While there, they are introduced to Von Braun and other Germans that were brought here under Operation Paperclip to assimilate into American society and work on the rocket program. They see a humanoid alien floating on a vat of liquid, and a UFO or replica that disappears when a force-field is activated around it.

• Operation Paperclip was real, and Wernher von Braun was a real rocket scientist brought to the U.S. The German rocket scientists were first brought to Fort Bliss, Texas, but in the ‘50s, von Braun and his team were moved to Huntsville, Alabama. The Americans wanted the Germans to create the world’s first ballistic missiles for them.

• During WWII, the Nazi’s communicated with aliens (Draco Reptilians) and were able to develop technologies based on alien technology. There are pictures online of saucer-shaped craft with Nazi symbols and guns mounted on them, although firing the weapons disrupted the propulsion systems and would not work. The Germans were able to develop rudimentary anti-gravity propulsion with a “Nazi Bell” craft. The propulsion system consisted of two cylinders filled with a mercury-like substance that spun in opposite directions.

• In 1943, the USS Eldridge, a 300 ft long Navy destroyer, was used to experiment with cloaking technology. When the invisibility machine was enabled, the ship disappeared. When it reappeared crewmen reported feeling sick, and some were killed by somehow being embedded into the bulkhead of the vessel. Known as “The Philadelphia Experiment”, this is the technology alluded to in this episode of Operation Blue Book when the prototype spaceship disappears at the end of the show.

• This Project Blue Book episode seems to suggest UFO sightings are actually due to civilian sightings of our own experimental aircraft, or in this case, experimental rockets. This is a ruse that the CIA has often used. The problem is that the U.S. Air Force began investigating UFO sightings in 1947 with Project Sign and Project Blue Book began in 1952. The U.S. did not conduct test flights of the U-2 spy plane until the mid to late 50s. So it is not possible for the U-2 test flights to have been the UFOs that caused the creation of Project Blue Book.

Project Blue Book, the TV show, is getting more exciting. This particular journey into conspiratorial sci-fi is intelligent in that it is expertly incorporating the UFO and conspiracy mythologies while making the viewers think about alternate explanations to the UFO mystery.

 

Project Blue Book episode 4 takes a nosedive into the rabbit hole, but the wild storylines follow real conspiracy and UFO mythologies that are popular on the web. It also presents an intriguing alternate theory to the idea that UFOs have anything to do with aliens at all.

   the real Wernher von Braun

Take an odd part of history, add a bit of conspiracy mythology, then sprinkle with magic Hollywood dust and up sprouts a huge, beautiful tree of fantasy. That would sum up my feelings on “Operation Paperclip.” I am a student of history, so I relish in historical accuracy. However, I am also a sci-fi buff, and this latest episode frustrated the history buff in me while exciting my sci-fi side.

Let’s get into it. The show begins with Hynek on an airplane. The first mystery presented was that the passenger cabin of the aircraft looked more like a train with curtains over the windows and seats that faced one another. However, in a tweet, show creator and writer David O’Leary wrote: “Yes, these old 1950s planes really did have train-like booths that faced each other. And lots more leg room!” Score one for historical accuracy! Granted, it’s one of the few points that I will award in this category for this particular episode.

Hynek then sees a UFO flying around the airplane. We are lead to believe Hynek is experiencing this sighting, but then he wakes from a dream. He was dreaming about his most recent UFO case – a sighting by the passengers and crew of a commercial aircraft near Huntsville, Alabama.

          the real J. Allen Hynek

Quinn feels certain he knows who is responsible for this UFO incident and he is not very happy about it. Quinn explains that after World War II, German scientists were snatched up by the U.S. as part of Operation Paperclip. He says Huntsville was set up to house German scientists working on rocket technology, led by Wernher von Braun. Having fought in World War II, Quinn is with the situation.

Hynek and Quinn travel to Huntsville to find out what the Germans are up to. Quinn is convinced that the UFO that buzzed the airplane was a rocket built by the former German scientists, who he believes were not concerned with endangering the lives of the passengers.

Security denies Hynek and Quinn access to the base, but Quinn crashes through the barricades anyway. This does allow them an audience with Von Braun but also lands Quinn a suspension. Von Braun says he is familiar with Hynek’s work, shows them a secret rocket launch and offers Hynek a job. He admits it was one of his rockets that buzzed the airplane, but Hynek doesn’t believe him.

To make a long story short, after leaving, Hyenk and Quinn break into the base again. This time they sneak around and find a body floating in a suspended animation container. It looks like an alien. The base alarms sound, so the two race off, only to be caught. Von Braun tells them what they saw was a monkey that had been sent into space and was undergoing testing as to the effects of space on its body. Hynek tells him he is suspicious of their project because the rocket explanation for the UFO sighting did not fit the witness testimony. There is something von Braun is hiding.

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Aliens and Cold War Paranoia Collide in ‘Project Blue Book’

by Judy Berman                    January 3, 2019                      (time.com)

• Based on the true story of J. Allen Hynek’s evolution from UFO skeptic as the head astronomer for Project Blue Book, to a believer suspicious of a government cover-up, premiered on January 8th on the History Channel. Project Blue Book was an Air Force project to ‘study’ and ultimately debunk all UFO reports, which existed from 1952 to 1969.

• The show, entitled “Project Blue Book” is executive produced by Robert Zemeckis. Aidan Gillen, Game of Thrones’ “Littlefinger”, portrays the brilliant but arrogant J. Allen Hynek. Set in the simpler times of the 1950’s and 60’s, the historical drama brings forth the underlying paranoia of government agendas and Soviet espionage that was brewing just below the surface.

Project Blue Book works as a paranormal procedural in the X-Files mold; the story moves quickly, the performances elevate the scripts and episodes strike the right balance between the character’s relationships and a darker scenario that drives the season-long arc of a ‘very watchable’ show.

 

After World War II, as tensions with the Soviet Union fueled both the space race and fears of nuclear apocalypse, the U.S. Air Force started investigating UFOs. For help debunking the strange reports flowing in from across the country, the military enlisted J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer later known for developing the “close encounter” classification system. But over the years, Hynek grew less skeptical about UFOs and more suspicious of his bosses’ agenda, even as he remained instrumental to the 17-year study Project Blue Book.

His story is so obviously the stuff of prestige TV that it’s surprising it has taken so long to reach cable, in the form of a sci-fi drama from executive producer Robert Zemeckis that premieres on Jan. 8 on History. Project Blue Book smartly casts Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones‘ Littlefinger) as the brilliant but arrogant Hynek. Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) is the grounded Scully to his obsessive Mulder, a World War II hero charged with overseeing Allen–and ensuring that he toes the Air Force line. Above Quinn’s pay grade, a cover-up is brewing. And at home, Allen’s long absences have primed his wife Mimi (Laura Mennell) for a friendship with a mysterious new woman in town (Ksenia Solo).

Many great historical dramas–Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire, The Knick–have been built on similar setups, following difficult visionaries who struggle against contemporary mores and authorities to shape the future we inhabit. Project Blue Book calls back to The Americans too, with Soviet spies sniffing around Allen’s classified research.

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

Meet J. Allen Hynek, the Astronomer Who First Classified UFO ‘Close Encounters’

by Greg Daugherty                      November 19, 2018                      (history.com)

• In 1947, a rash of reports of UFOs had the public on edge. The Air Force created Project Sign to investigate these UFO sightings. But they needed outside expertise to sift through the reports and come up with explanations for all of these sightings. Enter J. Allen Hynek.

• In 1948, Hynek was the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory. He had worked for the government during WWII developing new defense technologies for the war effort with a high security clearance. The Air Force approached him to be a consultant on ‘flying saucers’ for the government. “I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” Hynek recalled.

• Hynek’s UFO investigations under Project Sign resulted in twenty percent of the 237 cases that couldn’t be explained. In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge, which said Hynek, “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” The 1949 Grudge report concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, and warranted no further study.

• But UFO incidents continued, even from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously. The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge under a new name: Project Blue Book. Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. But he had changed his mind about the existence of UFOs. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in 1977. Hynek deplored the ridicule that people who reported a UFO sighting often had to endure, causing untold numbers of others to never come forward, not to mention the loss of useful research data.

• “Given the controversial nature of the subject, it’s understandable that both scientists and witnesses are reluctant to come forward,” said Jacques Vallee, co-author with Dr. Hynek of The Edge of Reality: A Progress Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

• On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union surprised the world by launching Sputnik, a serious blow to Americans’ sense of technological superiority. Hynek was on TV assuring Americans that their scientists were closely monitoring the situation. UFO sightings continued unabated.

• In the 1960s, Hynek was the top expert on UFOs as scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. But he chafed at what he perceived as the project’s mandate to debunk UFO sightings, and the inadequate resources at his disposal. Air Force Major Hector Quintanilla, who headed the project from 1963 to 1969, writes that he considered Hynek a “liability.”

• Hynek frustrated UFO debunkers such as the U.S. Air Force. But in 1966, after suggesting that a UFO sighting in Michigan may have been an optical illusion created by swamp gas, he became a punchline for UFO believers as well.

• In his testimony for a Congressional hearing in 1966, Hynek stated, “[I]t is my opinion that the body of data accumulated since 1948…deserves close scrutiny by a civilian panel of physical and social scientists…”. The Air Force established a civilian committee of scientists to investigate UFOs, chaired by physicist, Dr. Edward U. Condon. In 1968, Hynek assailed the Condon Report’s conclusion that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified.” In 1969, Project Blue Book shut down for good.

• UFO sightings continued around the world. Hynek later quipped, “apparently [they] did not read the Condon Report”. Hynek went on with his research, free from the compromises and bullying of the U.S. Air Force.

• In 1972, Hynek published his first book, The UFO Experience. It introduced Hynek’s classifications of UFO incidents, which he called Close Encounters. Close Encounters of the First Kind meant UFOs seen at a close enough range to make out some details. In a Close Encounter of the Second Kind, the UFO had a physical effect, such as scorching trees, frightening animals or causing car motors to suddenly conk out. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, witnesses reported seeing occupants in or near a UFO.

• In 1977, Steven Spielberg released the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Hynek was paid $1,000 for the use of the title, another $1,000 for the rights to use stories from the book and $1,500 for three days of technical consulting. He also had a brief cameo in the film, playing an awestruck scientist when the alien spacecraft comes into view.

• In 1978, Hynek retired from teaching. In 1973 he had founded the Center for UFO Studies which continues to this day. Hynek died in 1986, at age 75, from a brain tumor.

 

It’s September 1947, and the U.S. Air Force has a problem. A rash of reports about mysterious objects in the skies has the public on edge and the military baffled. The Air Force needs to figure out what’s going on—and fast. It launches an investigation it calls Project Sign.

By early 1948 the team realizes it needs some outside expertise to sift through the reports it’s receiving—specifically an astronomer who can determine which cases are easily explained by astronomical phenomena, such as planets, stars or meteors.

For J. Allen Hynek, then the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory, it would be a classic case of being in the right place at the right time—or, as he may have occasionally lamented, the wrong place at the wrong one.

The adventure begins

Hynek had worked for the government during the war, developing new defense technologies like the first radio-controlled fuse, so he already had a high security clearance and was a natural go-to.

“One day I had a visit from several men from the technical center at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, which was only 60 miles away in Dayton,” Hynek later wrote. “With some obvious embarrassment, the men eventually brought up the subject of ‘flying saucers’ and asked me if I would care to serve as consultant to the Air Force on the matter… The job didn’t seem as though it would take too much time, so I agreed.”

Little did Hynek realize that he was about to begin a lifelong odyssey that would make him one of the most famous and, at times, controversial scientists of the 20 century. Nor could he have guessed how much his own thinking about UFOs would change over that period as he persisted in bringing rigorous scientific inquiry to the subject.

“I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” he recalled.

Project Sign ran for a year, during which the team reviewed 237 cases. In Hynek’s final report, he noted that about 32 percent of incidents could be attributed to astronomical phenomena, while another 35 percent had other explanations, such as balloons, rockets, flares or birds. Of the remaining 33 percent, 13 percent didn’t offer enough evidence to yield an explanation. That left 20 percent that provided investigators with some evidence but still couldn’t be explained.

The Air Force was loath to use the term “unidentified flying object,” so the mysterious 20 percent were simply classified as “unidentified.”

In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge. While Sign offered at least a pretense of scientific objectivity, Grudge seems to have been dismissive from the start, just as its angry-sounding name suggests. Hynek, who played no role in Project Grudge, said it “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” Perhaps not surprisingly, its report, issued at the end of 1949, concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, having resulted from mass hysteria, deliberate hoaxes, mental illness or conventional objects that the witnesses had misinterpreted as otherworldly. It also suggested the subject wasn’t worth further study.

Project Blue Book is born

That might’ve been the end of it. But UFO incidents continued, including some puzzling reports from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously; LIFE magazine did a 1952 cover story, and even the widely respected TV journalist Edward R. Murrow devoted a program to the topic, including an interview with Kenneth Arnold, a pilot whose 1947 sighting of mysterious objects over Mount Rainier in Washington state popularized the term “flying saucer.” The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge, which soon morphed into the more benignly named Project Blue Book.

Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. For him, it was a side gig as he continued to teach and to pursue other, non-UFO research, at Ohio State. In 1960 he moved to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to chair its astronomy department.

As before, Hynek’s role was to review the reports of UFO sightings and determine whether there was a logical astronomical explanation. Typically that involved a lot of unglamorous paperwork; but now and then, for an especially puzzling case, he had a chance to get out into the field.

There he discovered something he might never have learned from simply reading the files: how normal the people who reported seeing UFOs tended to be. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in his 1977 book, The Hynek UFO Report.

“Their standing in the community, their lack of motive for perpetration of a hoax, their own puzzlement at the turn of events they believe they witnessed, and often their great reluctance to speak of the experience—all lend a subjective reality to their UFO experience.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

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