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The History Channel Mangles Project Blue Book, Mixing Fact and Fiction

On January 8, 2019, the much-awaited Project Blue Book premiered on the History television channel, which once actually showed history. It was expected to be both sensationalized and poorly acted. Those things it was. Where it exceeded expectations, however, was in the degree to which it distorted the facts of what was, in fact, a historical incident, freely mixing sensational but fictional elements with a classic UFO incident. Public discussions of this case will now be hopelessly polluted by the made-up elements that many people will now firmly believe are part of the actual story.

The first episode is titled “The Fuller Dogfight,” an obvious reference to the “classic” UFO case of the Gorman dogfight of 1948. (In fact, statements made at the end of the program confirm this.) This refers to a famous case in the Blue Book files occurring near Fargo, North Dakota, in which an experienced World War II pilot reported what seemed like a dogfight with a lighted object. Serious UFOlogists generally accept that the pilot, George Gorman, though an experienced combat pilot, became disoriented while attempting to approach a lighted object at night and reported it as performing impossible feats. The object was apparently a lighted weather balloon that had been recently launched in that area. Some will argue that it is not plausible for an experienced pilot to become so disoriented and imagine or misinterpret a slowly moving object as making incredible maneuvers. They forget that J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book’s astronomical consultant, wrote, “Surprisingly, commercial and military pilots appear to make relatively poor witnesses” (The Hynek UFO Report, 1977, p. 271).

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