'Project Blue Book': The real stories, sightings and encounters that inspired each of the episodes

From lights in the sky to aircraft encounters and monster sightings, the show has skillfully picked up incidents which were thoroughly investigated by Project Blue Book

                            'Project Blue Book': The real stories, sightings and encounters that inspired each of the episodes

History Channel's 'Project Blue Book' is unique in its projection of the controversies that led the world to believe in life beyond Earth. While keeping its appearance of the post-war '50s subtle and intact, the Robert Zemeckis-produced show has skillfully picked up incidents which were thoroughly investigated by Project Blue Book. Led by Dr. J Allen Hynek (played by Aidan Gillen) and Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (represented by Michael Quinn played by Michael Malarkey), the project was set up to help the government prove to people that the strange sightings on the sky are nothing more than phenomena with scientific explanations behind them.

As the show took off to a good start, it has remained true to its roots. Before Episode 3 premieres on January 22, at 10/9c, let's take a look at the six incidents which have inspired the first six episodes of the show:

1. The Gorman Dogfight (show title: 'The Fuller Dogfight')

The pilot episode introduced us to the incident that spearheaded the whole initialization of Project Blue Book. Picking up from the real event that took place on the night of October 1, 1948, 'The Fuller Dogfight' follows the story of Lieutenant George F. Gorman of the North Dakota Air National Guard, who said he had a 27-minute "dogfight" with a UFO in the skies over Fargo. A former war veteran, Gorman had been a flying instructor during World War II and was absolutely shaken by the encounter. However, Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who headed the Air Force's Project Blue Book in the early 1950s, claimed that all Gorman had witnessed was nothing more than a weather balloon.


2. The Phantom of Flatwoods ('The Flatwoods Monster') 

Flatwoods, the tiny town in West Virginia was shaken on the night of September 12, 1952, when a woman and six children claimed that they had had an alien encounter. Known by several names such as the Braxton County Monster, the Phantom of Flatwoods, or simply the Green Monster, the alien reportedly appeared immediately after a pulsing red light flew across the sky and crashed on a nearby farm. While the report sparked various controversies and almost divided people into believers and skeptics, the incident portrayed on the show concluded on the note that the monster was nothing more than an owl perched on a tree, that together appeared like a devious shadow in the dark.


3. 'The Lubbock Lights'

Known to be one of the most conventional symbols to signify the presence of aliens, the V-shaped lights were spotted on August 25, 1951, in Lubbock, Texas. Scientists from Texas Technical College claimed to have observed a series of lights, arranged in a neat V-shape, rush through the night sky. The lights kept appearing at particular intervals and soon was witnessed by many others, among who a hardened old man from Lamesa, who claims to have fought against Indians and stagecoaches, was terrified to death upon seeing the strange lights. The show adds its own element to the incident by giving us a glimpse of how Captain Quinn and Hynek saw the lights but were immediately asked to conceal the information.


4. 'Operation Paperclip'

During the Second World War, several war heroes had claimed to observe strange disc-like aircraft in the sky. While some of these left traces on the radar, others remained unidentified even with the most advanced US technology. However, when the war was over and the US realized Germany's potential in creating marvelous war weapons, General Patton spearheaded a search which discovered that German factories in Silesia contained sufficient evidence of German spacecraft that can not only fly in higher atmospheres but also can be taken outside into space. Due to the lack of resources to carry out such advanced practices, the US hired German scientists and experts to create the planes and codenamed the process as Operation Paperclip.


5. The 'Foo Fighters'

The strange sightings that various war veterans reported about were mostly objects that always traveled at great speeds and were able to make maneuvers to keep up with American planes. While the Americans feared that it could be yet another German invasion, there was evidence that pointed otherwise. The strange objects in the sky which would often appear to be chasing around aircraft were nicknamed Foo Fighters after a popular cartoon of the time called 'Smoky Stover'. Although they occurred across Europe and America, the Allies discovered that the Axis powers had also seen the objects.

6. The Will 'O Wisps ('The Green Fireballs')

Several people during February 1949 reported seeing flying green lights in New Mexico around 2 am, but the story continues to be just as controversial as all others. While some dismissed the report as a mere result of mass hysteria, others claimed that no officials were truly acknowledging the sightings. However, the appearance of the green lights did not fade away and continued till 1951, marking for the first time multiple sightings of an unidentified object in the sky. The main concern was that the sightings were concentrated around the Los Alamos and Sandia atomic weapons laboratories. Due to this, these sightings are considered significant since they were reported by people of high intellect like scientists, pilots, and other scholars. 


'Project Blue Book', in spite of its contemporary nature, has managed to execute the conservative idealism of the '50s, which was a time when people had just come out of a war. While at that time mass hysteria was something quite common, the emergence of multiple tales about aliens left everyone in a state of doubt about the future of the planet. The show certainly adds its own twists and turns by actually showing Hynek encounter aliens, but even in its most fantastic state, it manages to bring out the true turmoil between the government and the civilians over something that is not even from our planet. The show returns with Episode Three, 'Lubbock Lights', on January 22 at 10/9c on History Channel.