High Strangeness: Code Word: Excitement!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Code Word: Excitement!

This is big! I've come across an interesting bit of secret U. S. Air Force code while working on my book about Dr. J. Allen Hynek. At first I wasn't sure if I should share it here in the blog, knowing how sensitive it might be. National security and all that. But upon further reflection, I decided to take a stand. The public deserves to know.

What have I got? Well, back in August, 1953, while Hynek was working as a consultant on the Air Force's UFO study, Project Blue Book, a big case came in. In one night, over the course of three hours, as many as eight separate unidentified flying objects were sighted and tracked in the sky over Rapid City, South Dakota and Bismarck, North Dakota, some 220 miles to the northeast. Two things made the sightings remarkable: 1) every last one of the witnesses was a skilled, trained observer; and 2) the objects were picked up simultaneously by ground observers, radar operators and, in South Dakota, by Air Force pilots.

The first sighting was made by a volunteer sky watcher with the U. S. Air Force Ground Observer Corps (GOC) in Blackhawk, SD, just a few miles from Rapid City. Crazy as it seems, back in '53 the United States had not yet gotten our early warning radar system up and running; all we had was a bunch of kids, housewives and retirees with binoculars scanning the skies for any sign of incoming Russkie bombers. They actually strapped these people to the radar dishes.

So this woman spots a bogie through her binocs, calls it in to the GOC Filter Center in Rapid City, they in turn call it in to the control tower at nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base, and for a for a few hours everybody goes crazy watching a series of red, white and green lights flit around the sky and behave "erratically." Two Air Force jets are vectored to intercept the lights, only they can never catch up with them, which spooks the pilots something bad. One of the lights zooms up to Bismarck where the whole thing starts up all over again.
TRUE FACT: In 1953, the Air Force sent out black and white jets like these to intercept UFOs.
The case is investigated thoroughly by both the Blue Book CO, Captain Edward Ruppelt, and Dr. Hynek. And it's a really big deal because it's Hynek's first actual field investigation, see? So both men interview witnesses and file very long reports... and it's while I'm reading these reports some 60 years after they were written, that I detect the secret code...

Both Hynek and Ruppelt pepper their reports with the words "excitable" and "excited," and as I see these words over and over and over again in the reports it hits me that they mean something more than just "excitable" and "excited."

They're secret Air Force code for: "UNRELIABLE"!

Don't believe me? See for yourself. Here, for your enjoyment, are every last mention of these secret code words in the two Project Blue Book reports:
  •  “Bennett is rated as excitable, but pretty sure about what he sees,” Hynek reported, but noted that Bennett had pegged Needham as the excitable one.
  •  “The (South Dakota) observers are more excitable and less matter of fact and certainly have less scientific background then (sic) the observers in Bismarck, with one or two exceptions.”
  •  “They had been interrogated by base personnel and were ‘all excited.’ It was believed Capt.  Ruppelt’s talking to them would only further excite them, needlessly.”
  •  Needham described Bennett to Hynek as “excitable.”
  •  “In Captain Ruppelt’s original report, he stated that although he did not visit Bismarck, he felt that in as much as they had been alerted to watch out for something, they became excited and ‘saw lights.’”
  • Killian was “an excitable and rather cocky individual, and in some respects overbearing.”
Is it just me, or is that just way too much excitement?

1 comment:

Department 47 said...

I am sure that you are right that this was a "code" word that they used to describe whether they had a very calm, dispassionate observer or one who clearly reacted emotionally to their experience. I don't know that's any kind of shock, however. Parents will substitute words in their conversations all the time which are skewed just enough to cloud their actual meaning from kids and other unintended audiences. It's common in politics too - it's easier to call someone an undesirable rather than a criminal. It's easier to call them a malcontent rather than a nut bag. You get idea.