Yet these thousands of written words and millions of spoken words
-all attesting to the general interest - have generated more heat than
light. Out of this avalanche of print and talk, the full, factual, true story
of UFOs has emerged only on rare occasions. The general public, for it's
interest in UFOs, has been paid off in misinformation.

Edward J. Ruppelt

I am not a ufologist, I have not spent years of my life researching government archives or anything like that. I do however take an interest in the subject. I am convinced that there must exist other forms of intelligent life in the universe, I do not see any reason why we humans should be the sole inhabitants of the universe. Holding the opinion that we are 'not alone' does not mean that I believe that we have received visits from extraterrestrials! It is a fact that people see and report UFOs, perfectly sane and rational people have witnessed strange objects in the sky. I don't know the precise nature of these strange phenomena. Some of these witnesses have been highly trained military or civilian pilots, there have been reports of UFO sightings from policemen and scientists. It is not the the case that only nutters or weirdos see these strange objects. Of course the UFO phenomenon attracts a great number of very strange people, but the subject has been taken seriously enough to warrant governments setting up official investigations. With the release of previously classified documents it is possible to form some idea as to a particular government's attitude toward UFOs. Many declassified documents are now available on-line and can be accessed by anyone. The early reports and investigations into UFOs provide a fascinating insight into how the UFO phenomena has evolved, are we more cynical and sceptical these-days? Two such early documents are Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the United States, Study #203,10 December 1948 (USA, United States Air Force) and Unidentified Flying Objects, Flying Saucer Working Party, Report No 7 1951 (UK, Ministry of Defence). A very instructive background to the US reports from 1948 can be found at the excellent Project 1947 website.

The conclusions of Analysis of Flying Objects:
11. SINCE the Air Force is responsible for control of the air in the defense of the U.S., it is imperative that all other agencies cooperate in confirming or denying the possibility that these objects have a domestic origin. Otherwise, if it is firmly indicated that there is no domestic explanation, the objects are a threat and warrant more active efforts of identification and interception.

12. IT MUST be accepted that some type of flying objects have been observed, although their identification and origin are not discernable. In the interest of national defense it would be unwise to overlook the possibility that some of these objects may be of foreign origin.

The US report clearly indicates that UFOs were taken seriously. Is there any suggestion in the report of these UFOs having an extraterrestrial origin? Is there any suggestion in the report that the USAF had secret knowledge of visitors from outer space?

The McCoy Memo
Here is another document from 1948 the "McCoy Memo" In this document the possibility that UFOs may originate from beyond the earth is mentioned. At the time scientists thought that the planet Mars might be capable of supporting complex lifeforms, this was before space probes had been sent to investigate the planet. Given the state of knowledge of the Martian environment in 1948 the possibility that some form of intelligent life existed on Mars could not be ruled out.

8. The possibility that the reported objects are vehicles from another planet has not been ignored. However, tangible evidence to support con clusions about such a possibility are completely lacking. The occurrence of incidents in relation to the approach to the earth of the planets Mercury, Venus and Mars have been plotted. A periodic variation in the frequency of incidents, which appears to have some relation to the planet approach curves is noted, but it may be purely a coincidence.

It seems that opinion as to the origin of UFOs was divided between:

The Soviet Union (Secret Aircraft)
Extraterrestrial (Spacecraft)

The conclusions of the Flying Saucer Working Party:
Conclusions and Recommendations
15. When the only material available is a mass of purely subjective evidence, it is impossible to give anything like scientific proof that the phenomena observed are, or are not caused by something entirely novel, such as an aircraft of extraterrestrial origin, developed by beings unknown to us on lines more advanced than anything we have thought of. We are, however satisfied that the bulk of the observations reported do not need such an explanation, and can be accounted for much more simply. There is a very old scientific principle usually attributed to William of Occam, which states that the most probable hypothesis is the simplest necessary to explain the observations. We believe that this principle should be applied to the present case, and accordingly conclude that all the observations reported were due to one or other of the following causes:-

(1) Astronomical or meteorological phenomena of known types.
(2) Mistaken identification of conventional aircraft, balloons, bird, or other normal or natural objects.
(3) Optical illusions and psychological delusions.
(4) Deliberate hoaxes.

We consider that no progress will be made by attempting further investigation of unco-ordinated and subjective evidence, and that positive results could only be obtained by organising throughout the country, or the world, continuous observations of the skies by a co-ordinated network of visual observers, equipped with photographic apparatus, and supplemented by a network of radar stations and sound locators. We should regard this, on the evidence so far available, as a singularly profitless enterprise. We accordingly recommend very strongly that no further investigations of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken unless and until some material evidence becomes available.

The tone of the Flying Saucer Working Party report is somewhat sceptical, the fears regarding national security present in the earlier US report are not expressed here, the lack of solid material evidence in UFO reports is emphasised.

Nathan Twining's letter
One document that is often cited as evidence that the US Air Force secretly knew all about flying saucers is General Nathan Twining's letter to Brigadier General Schulgen. The following part of the report has been interpreted by some researchers as indicating a cover-up.

(2) The lack of physical evidence in the shape of crash
recovered exhibits which would undeniably prove the
existence of these subjects.

In July of 1947 a flying saucer was alleged to have crashed near the town of Roswell New Mexico. The crashed saucer was transported to Wright Field air base at Dayton Ohio. Conspiracy theorists argue that Twining must have been aware that the crashed saucer was taken to Wright Field, and so his statement about a lack physical evidence was untrue. The wreckage found near Roswell consisted of bits of tin foil, rubber, balsa wood and adhesive tape, this material was transported to Wright Field, but I would not describe it as physical evidence of a 'flying disk'. Given the nature of the material found near Roswell, Twining's statement concerning physical evidence seems perfectly reasonable. Now I am not so naive as to believe that governments never lie to or deceive the public. It's hardly a revelation to discover that there are genuine cases where governments have been involved in some extremely sinister, deeply unpleasant, and immoral activities. But in saying that, to be honest some of the conspiracy theories that surround cases like Roswell are convoluted in the extreme, the reasoning used to fit the conspiracy becomes increasingly torturous and paranoid.