On 31 August 1966, Colonel Ivan C. Atkinson, Deputy Executive Director of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, addressed a letter to the University of Colorado. In it he outlined the belief of AFOSR that a scientific investigation of unidentified flying objects conducted wholly outside the jurisdiction of the Air Force would be of unusual significance from the standpoint of both scientific interest in and public concern with the subject. Colonel Atkinson requested "that the University of Colorado participate in this investigation as the grantee institution." The University was asked to undertake this scientific study with the unconditional guarantee that "the scientists involved will have complete freedom to design and develop techniques for the investigation of the varied physical and psychological questions raised in conjunction with this phenomenon according to their best scientific judgment."
The request of AFOSR was pursuant to the recommendation made in March, 1966, of an ad hoc panel of the United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by Dr. Brian O'Brien. Subsequently, as chairman of the Advisory Committee to the Air Force Systems Command of the National Academy Sciences-National Research Council, Dr. OBrien had advised AFOSR on the suitability of the University of Colorado as the grantee institution.
Following receipt of Colonel Atkinsons request in behalf of AFOSR, the University administration and interested members of the faculty discussed the proposed study project. The subject was recognized as being both elusive and controversial in its scientific aspects. For this reason alone, there was an understandable reluctance on the part of many scientists to undertake such a study. Scientists hesitate to commit their time to research that does not appear to offer reasonably
clear avenues by which definite progress may be made. In addition, the subject had achieved considerable notoriety over the years. Many popular books and magazine articles had criticized the Air Force for not devoting more attention to the subject; others criticized the Air Force for paying any attention whatever to UFOs.
Bearing these facts in mind, the University administration concluded that it had an obligation to the country to do what it could to clarify a tangled and confused issue while making entirely certain that the highest academic and scientific standards would be maintained. Fortunately, Dr. Edward U. Condon, Professor of Physics and Fellow of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, shared this concern and was willing to accept appointment as scientific director of the project. Designated as principal investigators with Dr. Condon were Dr. Stuart Cook, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Franklin E. Roach, physicist specializing in atmospheric physics at the Environmental Science Services Administration. Assistant Dean Robert J. Low of the Graduate School was appointed project coordinator.
The University undertook the study only on condition that it would be conducted as a normal scientific research project, subject only to the professional scientific judgment of the director and his aides. Freedom from control by the granting agency was guaranteed not only by the assertions of Colonel Atkinson, but also by the provision that the complete report of the findings of the study would be made available to the public.
In addition the University recognized that this study, as the first undertaken on a broad scale in this field, would have seminal effect. It therefore desired the cooperation of the scientific community at large. Assurances of support and counsel were forthcoming from such institutions as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR3 and the Environmental Science Services Administration (ESSA), and from
many scientists and scientific institutions in other parts of the country.
The University also welcomed an arrangement whereby the methods and results of the study would be critically examined at the conclusion of the project. This cooperation was extended by the National Academy of Sciences, which announced in its October 1966 News Report that the Academy had agreed to review the University of Colorado study upon its completion in 1968. Unhesitatingly agreeing to this independent examination of the study, the ASOFR announced that it would consider the NAS review a "further independent check on the scientific validity of the method of investigation.
In October, 1966, the scientific director assembled a modest staff centered at the University campus in Boulder and work began. In addition, agreements were entered into between the University and such institutions as NCAR, the Institutes of ESSA, the Stanford Research Institute and the University of Arizona for the scientific and technical services of persons in specialized fields of knowledge bearing upon the subject under investigation. Thus it became possible to study specific topics both at Boulder and elsewhere and to bring to bear upon the data gathered by the project's field investigation teams whatever expertise might be required for full analysis of the information.
The report of the study that was conducted over the ensuing 18 months is presented on the following pages. It is lengthy and diverse in the subjects it treats, which range from history to critical examination of eye-witness reports; from laboratory analysis to presentation of general scientific principles. No claim of perfection is made for this study or for its results, since like any scientific endeavor, it could have been improved upon -- especially from the vantage-point of hindsight. The reader should thus bear in mind that this study represents the first attempt by a group of highly qualified scientists and specialists to examine coldly and dispassionately a subject that has
aroused the imagination and emotions of some persons and has intrigued many others. No one study can answer all questions; but it can point out new lines for research, it can cross off some ideas as not fruitful for further inquiry, and it can lay to rest at least some rumors, exaggerations, and imaginings.
Thurston E. Manning
Vice President for Academic Affairs
October 31, 1968