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The CIA and UFOs: A long and complicated history

Since its inception in 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been involved in a wide variety of activities, both domestic and foreign. While it is perhaps best known for its espionage work, the CIA has also dabbled in everything from mind control to assassination. In recent years, one of the most popular topics associated with the CIA has been its involvement with the UFO phenomenon. 

The CIA’s interest in UFOs is well-documented and goes back to the early days of the agency. In 1947, shortly after the Roswell UFO incident made headlines around the world, a memo was sent from CIA Director Roscoe Hillenkoetter to President Harry Truman detailing the agency’s interest in “flying discs.” The memo stated that the CIA had been working with several different countries to track reports of flying discs and that they would continue to do so to determine if these objects posed a threat to national security. 

In the years since 1947, the CIA has continued to collect reports of UFO sightings from around the world. In addition, the agency has also conducted its research into the phenomenon, often using government resources that are not available to civilian researchers. In recent years, however, the CIA has become much more secretive about its involvement in UFO research and has released only a limited amount of information about its activities. 

Recent declassified CIA files reveal that the agency took a keen interest in reports of UFO sightings and unidentified aerial phenomena during the Cold War era. In some cases, the CIA even dispatched operatives to investigate reports of UFOs to gather intelligence on Soviet military capabilities. While the CIA’s interest in UFOs may have waned in recent years, the agency’s involvement in investigating reports of unidentified flying objects is nonetheless a fascinating chapter in its history. 

Richard M. Dolan

UFOs and the National Security State: 1941-1973: Volume 1 

dolan vol1

Richard M. Dolan

UFOs and the National Security State: 1973-1991: Volume 2 

dolan vol2

Richard M. Dolan

UFOs for the 21st Century Mind: The Definitive Guide to the UFO Mystery

Richard Dolan 21st Century

The Origins of the CIA’s Interest in UFOs

The origins of the CIA’s interest in UFOs can be traced back to the early days of the Cold War. In 1947, private pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine strange flying objects near Mount Rainier in Washington state. Arnold described the objects as being “flat like a pie pan” and said they were flying in “a chain-like formation.” 

Arnold’s report sparked a media frenzy and led to numerous other reports of UFO sightings across the United States. The U.S. government quickly took notice of the growing public obsession with UFOs and began tracking reports of sightings through Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book—all classified military studies that were eventually shuttered without conclusive results. 

While Project Blue Book is often cited as evidence that the government has never taken UFO sightings seriously, newly declassified CIA files reveal that the agency continued to investigate reports of UFOs long after Project Blue Book ended. 

The CIA’s Role in Investigating UFO Sightings

During the Cold War era, the CIA took a keen interest in reports of UFO sightings for two reasons: to gather intelligence on Soviet military capabilities and to assess potential threats to national security. In some cases, the CIA even dispatched operatives to investigate reports of UFOs. 

For example, in 1977, CIA operative Belle Cameron was sent to investigate a report of a UFO sighting in Zimbabwe (then known as Rhodesia). Cameron’s report, which was declassified by the CIA in 2018, concluded that there was “no indication” that the sighting was anything other than “a natural phenomenon.” However, other declassified reports reveal that not all CIA investigations into UFO sightings had such mundane explanations. 

In 1975, for example, two U.S. Air Force aircraft were dispatched to investigate a report of a UFO over Alaska. The pilots reported seeing “unexplained structures” and one of them described feeling an “intense heat source” while chasing the object. A later investigation by NASA concluded that what the pilots had seen was nothing more than an optical illusion created by ice crystals in clouds reflecting sunlight. However, many UFO enthusiasts believe this explanation is not credible and point to other declassified documents which they say provide evidence that something more mysterious was going on.  

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Project Blue Book

One of the most famous examples of CIA involvement in UFO research is Project Blue Book. Project Blue Book was a long-running investigation into UFOs that was conducted by the United States Air Force. The project was officially terminated in 1969, but not before it had amassed a large body of evidence related to UFO sightings and encounters. 

In 1976, following a Freedom of Information Act request from ufologist Stanton Friedman, the Air Force released over 800 documents related to Project Blue Book. These documents included detailed reports of sighting incidents, as well as interviews with witnesses and possible explanations for what they had seen. The release of these documents helped fuel public interest in UFOs and led to a renewed interest in government involvement in UFO research. 

The CIA’s involvement in UFO research did not end with Project Blue Book. The agency continued to collect reports of sightings throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In addition, the CIA also conducted its investigations into certain high-profile cases.

Professor J Allan Hynek

Professor J Allan Hynek was a leading astronomer and researcher who played a pivotal role in our understanding of UFOs. At the beginning of his career, Hynek was involved in Project Bluebook, an official government UFO study that focused on air force cases. Through extensive research and investigation, Hynek was able to determine that many UFO sightings were simply the result of natural phenomena or human error. However, he soon recognized that some reports could not be explained, and he became interested in these so-called “unidentified flying objects.”

Over time, Hynek went on to open a research center dedicated to investigating UFOs and began working with large-scale organizations like the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Hynek remained committed to uncovering the truth about UFOs, ultimately helping to shape our modern understanding of this mysterious subject.

The CIA’s Use of Remote Viewing

In the 1970s, the CIA began researching a method of extrasensory perception called “remote viewing.” The goal was to train people to use their psychic abilities to gather intelligence about targets that were out of their physical reach. The program, which was known as “Project Stargate,” continued until 1995 and involved some of the best psychics in the world.

What is Remote Viewing?

At its core, remote viewing is a way to gain information about a target that you can’t access through normal means. This can be done either by traveling to the location in question or by accessing it through some form of extrasensory perception (ESP). The latter is what the CIA was interested in, as it would allow them to obtain information without ever having to physically visit the target locations. 

How Did Project Stargate Work?

The first step in Project Stargate was to find people who had a proven track record of success with remote viewing. Once a pool of potential candidates had been identified, they were put through a rigorous training program. This training typically lasted several months and involved both classroom instruction and hands-on practice.

Once the trainees had completed the program, they were given real-world assignments. These assignments usually involved finding missing objects or people, but they could also involve gathering intelligence about an enemy stronghold or even predicting future events. The results of these assignments were then analyzed by CIA experts to see if they could be used for operational purposes. 

Did It Work?

Many people involved in Project Stargate claimed to have had success with remote viewing, and since they went public with their testimonies in the 1990s, they have trained a new generation of remote viewers. However, people remain skeptical, so whether or not you believe in psychic abilities, Project Stargate is an interesting chapter in CIA history 


The Central Intelligence Agency has long been interested in investigating reports of unidentified flying objects and unidentified aerial phenomena. While most sightings can be easily explained away as natural phenomena or optical illusions, there remain many significant instances where even experienced pilots and trained investigators have been unable to come up with a satisfactory explanation for what was seen or experienced.

The CIA has been involved in UFO research since 1947 and the agency has always been secretive about its activities in this area. Some have suggested that this is because it doesn’t want to admit that it doesn’t know what’s going on, and at the same time it wants to harness the technology displayed by UAP before it can be back-engineered and harnessed by a foreign power.

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