Featured News

CIA UFO Docs: Identifying Those Flying Objects

by Paul Serran

In the run up to the imminent report of American agencies on UFOs, I think it would be nice to write about the CIA UFO doc dump, and what we can learn from it.

In this brief look at the material, this author will share his unshakeable impression that the bulk of apparitions under study concerned earthly, secret aircraft from a variety of nations, both friend and foe to the US. This is far from controversial, and the information to demonstrate it is in public domain.

Also importantly, I will try to show that there is an abundance of evidence that UFOs were (and are) used as a psyop on populations around the globe.


The CIA UFO docs came from a FOIA request by The Black Vault group. This release came to supplement another one, made in 1978, following a similar lawsuit by UFO group Ground Saucer Watch.

The released documents catalogue CIA information from the 1940s through the early 1990s. They are mostly CIA cables reporting unsubstantiated UFO sightings in the foreign press, and intra-Agency memos about public inquiries on UFO sightings.


Besides the docs, for better context, I will be extensively relying on the article CIAs Role in the Study of UFOs – 1947-90, by Gerald K. Hanes.

“Many are convinced that the US Government, and particularly CIA, are engaged in a massive conspiracy and cover-up of the issue”, writes Hanes about the obvious mistrust with which the general public holds the Agency. “The idea that CIA has secretly concealed its research into UFOs has been a major theme of UFO buffs since the modern UFO phenomena emerged in the late 1940s.”


24 June 1947: Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot and businessman, “sighted nine disk shaped objects near Mt. Rainier, Washington, traveling at an estimated speed of over 1,000 mph.”

UFOs were initially explained “as balloons, conventional aircraft, planets, meteors, optical illusions, solar reflections, or even large hailstones.”

With project BLUE BOOK and others, the Air Force was the government agency tasked with studying the UFO phenomenon.

But a massive buildup of sightings over the United States, in 1952, alarmed the Truman administration, and the CIA reacted by forming a special study group.

CIA Director Smith: UFOs and psychological warfare.

Walter B. Smith director of the CIA, in a memorandum for the Director of the Psychological Strategy Board, wrote: “the problems connected with unidentified flying objects appear to have implications for psychological warfare as well as for intelligence and operations.”

Smith had concerns over whether or not the Air Force investigation of flying saucers was objective. As Hanes puts it: “Smith believed there was only one chance in 10,000 that the phenomenon posed a threat to the security of the country, but even that chance could not be taken.”

The CIA Study Group met with Air Force officials at Wright-Patterson Air Base, and reviewed their data and findings. “The CIA Study Group also searched the Soviet press for UFO reports, but found none, causing the group to conclude that the absence of reports had to have been the result of deliberate Soviet Government policy.”

Skillful hostile propaganda?

Another document in the FOIA release details the National Security implications stemming from the UFO phenomenon: “channels of communications are clogged by irrelevant reports; continued false claims lead to the ignoring of real indications of hostile actions; creation of a morbid national psychology in which skillful hostile propaganda could induce hysterical behavior and harmful distrust of duly constituted authority.”

Soviet aeronautical equipment?

The most pressing question, for many, seemed to be whether the ‘saucers’ were enemy aircraft. One document reads: “I asked Phil [Phil Grandin Strong, chief of the office of Scientific Intelligence] point blank if the unexplained [sightings] could include actual secret Soviet advanced aeronautical equipment. He replied: ‘Conceivably, yes.'”


December 1952: as Gerald K. Hanes writes, “sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at high speeds in the vicinity of major US defense installations are of such nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles.”

The CIA enlisted selected scientists “to review and appraise the available evidence in the light of pertinent scientific theories.”

Before examining the evidence, the CIA scientific panel drafted a list with all possible explanations they could come up with for the UFO sightings, as we learn from a document in the FOIA release:

  1. Psychological explanations: Histeria, allucinations, hoaxes, etc.
  2. Misidentification of conventional objects, like aircraft, missiles, searchlights, balloons, birds, bugs, dust, airborne seeds.
  3. Natural phenomena, such as light absorptions, reflections, refractions, anomalous radar propagation, static electricity, ball lighting, planets, meteors, or other astral bodies.
  4. Unconventional man-made devices, be it American, Soviet or from other countries.
  5. Extraterrestrial origin, be it mechanical crafts or animals (biological beings).

The panel concluded unanimously that “there was no evidence of a direct threat to national security in the UFO sightings. Nor could the panel find any evidence that the objects sighted might be extraterrestrials.”

(SPOILER ALERTstrikingly similar conclusions to those of the earlier Air Force reports. And wait until you compare with the expected result of THIS YEAR’S REPORT.)

The CIA panel recommended that the National Security Council “debunk UFO reports” and monitor private UFO groups “for subversive activities”.

Not only was the panel report classified, but any mention of CIA sponsorship of the panel was forbidden. No wonder there is so little trust in the Agency.


Meanwhile, the idea that UFOs were ships from outer space with a crew of extra-terrestrial (Alien) beings was taking a firm hold in the imagination of the US and the western world.

Science Fiction quickly became a full-fledged literary and cinematographic genre, and sci-fi became a massivesubculture.

Dr. Leon Davidson was not easily dismissed.

Dr. Leon Davidson, a chemical engineer and scientist, was on the team that developed the atomic bomb in the Project Manhattan. He was not, therefore, someone that could be easily dismissed.

Davidson, who became an author and UFO buff, was always a thorn on the side of the CIA. “Dr. Leon Davis is on our backs again”, reads one memo in the doc release. “He wants a verbatim translation of the ‘space’ message. [We told] Davidson that the message was an identifiable Morse code and from a licensed radio station. This was intended to satisfy Davidson that we did not in fact have a space message.”

There are literally dozens of documents regarding the never-ending requests by Dr. Leon Davidson. Sources in the CIA “hinted that Davidson might have ulterior motives”, meaning he was a suspected Soviet spy, “and suggested bringing in the FBI to investigate [him].”

Davidson was repeatedly approached by CIA operatives posing as Air Force Officers trying to misdirect and discourage him. At one point, writes Hanes, “Davidson told the CIA officer that he and his agency, whichever it was, were acting like Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamster Union in destroying records which might indict them.”

Human technology?

Out of the many hundreds of CIA documents, one caught my eye. The Greek Magazine I Vradyni, in its edition of May 13th, 1953, had a piece with Georg Klein, a German Engineer, who alleged to have worked under Nazi minister Albert Speer, and said he was present in Prague on 14 February 1945, at the first flight of the “saucer”.

In accordance to German plans, the speed of the craft would reach 2,4k miles per hour.

Also in the interview with Klein, he reveals that Canadian Air Force engineers are engaged in the construction of a ‘Flying Saucer’ to be used as a weapon of war.

I know what you are thinking now: German Nazi engineer in a Greek Magazine from almost 70 years ago? Yes, I agree. But stick with me, and you are probably going to be surprised.

Avro Canada is a real thing!

In another document, a CIA source talks with Phil Strong, from the office of Scientific Intelligence: “the British and Canadians have a very sensitive project in this field” in the design of a flying saucer “with jets on the circumference. The jets are in vertical position for takeoff and are shifted horizontally for forward movement.” Strong also assures the source that “the air force has ‘some projects’ along this line.”

As it turns out, the Avro Canada is a real life thing, and so are the Supersonic Avrodynes that they projected. Eight engineers and draftsmen were selected by Avro Chief Designer John Frost to develop radical aeronautical design ideas and new technology.

Extensive research and development work was done on several ‘saucer’-like vehicles. According to available information, the only vehicle actually built was the VZ-9-AV Avrocar, funded by the U.S. military.


While there was a fading CIA interest in UFOs in the following decades, with many in the Agency wanting to end the UFO intelligence gathering program, there were, at the same time, concerns that German engineers held by the Soviets were developing a flying saucer as a future weapon of war.

It was the height of the Cold War. As Hanes writes, “Mounting reports of UFOs over eastern Europe and Afghanistan also prompted concern that the Soviets were making rapid progress in this area. CIA officials knew that the British and Canadians were already experimenting with flying saucers.”

Also in the article “CIAs Role in the Study of UFOs” by Hanes, there is this startling admission: “Once the U-2 started test flights, commercial pilots and air traffic controllers began reporting a large increase in UFO sightings.”

This is nothing less than an admission that earthly, secret aircraft were behind a significant percentage of the sightings. This was later to be also true regarding the then-secret ‘Stealth’ planes. And it may conceivably have been the case with technologies that were never revealed publicly.

Meanwhile, the article goes, the “Air Force tried to explain away such sightings by linking them to natural phenomena such as ice crystals and temperature inversions.”

UFOs are a perennial obsession in the western culture.

During the 1970s and 1980s, UFOs continued to be a fixture of human culture, fueled by a sci-fi subculture and by a never-ending parade of sightings.

“Additional sightings in the early 1970s fueled beliefs that the CIA was somehow involved in a vast conspiracy”, writes Hanes. These beliefs were, as we have seen, fully justified.

September 1977: UFO group Ground Saucer Watch files a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA “that specifically requested all UFO documents in CIA’s possession.”

“The search finally produced 355 documents totaling approximately 900 pages” Hanes’ article informs us. “The Agency released all but 57 documents of about 100 pages to GSW. It withheld these 57 documents on national security grounds and to protect sources and methods.”

While full transparency is hardly to be expected given the stakes involved, to state that just 57 documents were withheld is misleading. It’s a significant percentage.

The Soviets’ opening on UFOs coincided with the end of their empire.

Many CIA officials’ main take on the UFO problem was to determine “what UFO sightings might tell them about Soviet progress in rockets and missiles and reviewed its counterintelligence aspects”.

One CIA document recounts how, in 1976, a BEA Airline pilot, flying over Lithuania, encounters firsthand the Soviet censuring on UFOs.

The flight crew saw a “blinding, single source, constant intensity, and stationary light was observed off the starboard flight path of the aircraft.”

“The light, which resembled a sodium vapor lamp (yellowish in color) , and which was too intense to view directly for any period of time, completely lit the lower cloud layer, giving it a glowing cast.”

The Pilot “asked the soviet authorities for an identification of its source. [They] came back with a negative identification response, suggesting that he should not ask any questions.”

Yes, that was the Soviet modus operandi on UFOs for decades. Complete silence.

Moreover, as Hanes points out, right from the start there were “counterintelligence concerns that the Soviets and the KGB were using US citizens and UFO groups to obtain information on sensitive US weapons development programs (such as the Stealth aircraft), the vulnerability of the US air-defense network to penetration by foreign missiles mimicking UFOs, and evidence of Soviet advanced technology associated with UFO sightings.”


And then, the Glasnost happened, with Soviets vowing to be more open and less secretive. That led, in the 90s, to a deluge of UFO news and interest.

One CIA doc from Soviet media adverts: Americans cancelled joint mission to Mars to keep their spaceships secret! According to them, “cancellation of joint US-USSR mars mission might be consistent with Americans having developed ‘nuclear-thermonuclear installation’ to power spacecraft which they wish to keep under wraps.”

Another magazine article splashes: “UFOGATE! Russian military would have leaked UFO secret archives to the Americans.”

In the crumbling Soviet empire, UFOs were in the TV programming besides MTV and sports. It was clearly being used, in the words of a memo quoted before, as the “creation of a morbid national psychology in which skillful hostile propaganda could induce hysterical behavior and harmful distrust of duly constituted authority.”

The Americans were flipping the psy-op work on the Russians.

General Tretyak: UFOs are earthly craft.

An interview with Army General Ivan Moiseyevich Tretyak, commander in chief of Soviet Air Defense Forces, in 1992, is most illuminating, especially if read against the background of the then-secret ‘Stealth Planes’:

“(reporter): Do you believe in UFOs?

General Tretyak: As yet I do not. I believe something else, that modern science and technology are capable of creating such spacecraft that could appear above us.”

 Navy patents for UFO-like ships.

Lately, there has come to light information that the US Navy has filed for UFO-like patents, because of the Chinese advances in the field. Whether this is a real project, or not, the list of evidence supporting UFOs being earthly aircrafts is getting longer and longer.

 Will there finally be a real disclosure? It is unlikely.

This latest disclosure effort appears on the surface to be different. More and more videos and images regarding UFO encounters have been released.

However, before the report is even out, ‘sources’ have leaked to the press that the report has found that… (wait for it…) there is no evidence to say it is secret human tech, nor there is evidence that it is of extraterrestrial origin.

Unsurprisingly, it will probably repeat the very same line that has been handed since the fifties.


Final disclaimer: Before taking the time to read the CIA docs, I had a very different view of this issue. I’m personally of the opinion that extraterrestrial life is very likely to exist. And I’m also aware of the reality that many of the sightings can be chalked away to optical illusions, atmospheric oddities and the like. However, the more I delve into the documents, the more convinced I become of a pattern: secret technology is always being hidden at all costs, and a there is constant psychological work done by multiple agencies and nations to exploit this issue.

About the author


News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: