In December 1969, Secretary of the Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr., announced the termination of the USAF program for the investigation of unidentified flying objects, stating that “the continuation of Project Blue Book cannot be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science,” while concluding that the project does not merit future expenditures of resources.
Following the announcement, Blue Book staff delivered the administrative and case files for approximately 13,000 UFO sighting reports (1947-69) to the Air Force Archives at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, where the records were available upon request until 1975. Subsequently, the records were microfilmed by the Air Force before transfer to the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. NARA produced its 35mm microfilm version [NARA Microfilm Publication T1206] for public release in 1976.
The 24 October 1968 Minot AFB case file number is 12,548. The documents comprise 145 pages in chronological order from 24 October to 14 November 1968, including two maps, and thirteen B-52 radarscope photographs.
The bulk of the documents are transactional records, compliant to the procedures promulgated by Air Force Regulation No. 80-17, which established the overall objectives and uniform responsibilities of the UFO program. Under the general provisions of AFR 80-17, each commander at an Air Force base was required to provide a UFO investigative capability. In this instance, Minot AFB commander Colonel Ralph E. Kirchoff designated 862nd Combat Support Group, Operations Division chief Lt. Colonel Arthur J. Werlich as liaison to the UFO project. This was Werlich's first UFO investigation, and he initially contacted Strategic Air Command headquarters, Offutt AFB, Neb, to request technical assistance, but was directed by Col. Weyant in Operations to comply strictly with AFR 80-17. Werlich's primary responsibility was to collect and collate a formatted list of Basic Reporting Data, to include his initial analysis and comments on the possible cause or stimulus for the observation at the end of the report.
During the course of collecting the data, apparently Werlich interviewed 17 witnesses who visually observed a UFO, of which only 7 completed the 9-page Air Force Form 117, Sighting of Unidentified Phenomena Questionnaire (AF-117).
Once Werlich had collated the Basic Reporting Data, he electronically transmitted the 8-page report to designated Air Force agencies, including Blue Book in the Foreign Technology Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Upon receipt, Blue Book staff were required to evaluate the information in order to determine a cause or stimulus for the reports and produce a final case report.
These primary transactional documents total 83 pages.
Following receipt of the Basic Reporting Data, Blue Book staff requested supplemental information and specific materials to be forwarded by mail. In response, Werlich sent several selective documents that had been recorded concurrent with the events, which preserve and communicate to others descriptions of what was happening at a given time. These documents include an upper-air rawinsonde dataset; a two-hour sequential log of the UFO descriptions and movements reported to the Base Operations Dispatcher by the ground observers at N-7; a witness list with sighting times, which includes a summary of distinct events compiled by the 91st Missile Wing, Security Controller; a Transcription of Recorded Conversations between Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) and the B-52 co-pilot; and a sequence of thirteen 8x10" photographic prints of the B-52 radarscope film.
These selective documents total 19 pages.
Memo for the Record
During the course of the investigation, Blue Book staff were in regular contact with Col. Werlich and transcripts of the telephone conversations are included as Memo(s) for the Record. These documents provide supplemental information, and moreover, in contrast to the formality of the transactional documents, personal details, and insight into the process of the investigation. Included are Werlich's initial report to Blue Book; requests from Blue Book staff for additional information and materials following receipt of the Basic Reporting Data; Werlich's response to the requests; and two subsequent requests by Blue Book assistant Lieutenant Marano for information concerning the weather radar that were ultimately not responded to.
Further, there are 3 Memo(s) for the Record, and two TWX communications between Strategic Air Command headquarters and Blue Book staff. Monday morning following the events, Colonel Weyant, in the Directorate of Operations at SAC, phoned twice inquiring about Blue Book investigation procedures. And later, Colonel Pullen, assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence, Brig. General Richard R. Stewart, was in periodic contact with Blue Book chief Lt. Colonel Hector Quintanilla.
These memorandum of communications comprise 20 pages.
Werlich also prepared and forwarded a map overlay (transparency to be superimposed on a 200-series map chart), in which he plotted the B-52 movements during the UFO encounters, including the relative positions and movements of the UFO. Due to security restrictions, he could not forward the original 200-series map chart (1:200,000), but instead, instructed Blue Book staff to acquire the original master chart at Wright-Patterson AFB. Whether Blue Book staff did is not known, particularly since the map included in the file is an unclassified Off-base Disaster Control Grid Map with a different scale (1:250,000).