Are we alone in the universe? In its new scripted series, Project Blue Book, A&E looks to the past to answer this question. Specifically, it takes us back to the 1950s and 1960s, when UFO panic reigned and the real-life Project Blue Book began. Based on declassified government documents into real-life investigations of unidentified flying objects, the show retells the true stories of actual cases and the people whose lives they touched.
The first episode covers the chilling true-life tale of the Gorman Dogfight, an incident involving a UFO that some say has never been truly explained. According to History.com, on October 1, 1948, veteran World War II fighter pilot George F. Gorman came into contact with a mysterious floating white orb while flying above Fargo, North Dakota.
While out flying one night, Gorman encountered a strange white light flying near him. The control tower insisted that there were no other aircraft out at the time. According to Gorman’s account of the incident, he flew his plane within 1,000 yards of the object and didn’t quite know what to make of what he saw.
“It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges,” he said in his report.
“It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”
— PROJECT BLUE BOOK (@HistoryBlueBook) December 29, 2018
For 27 minutes, Gorman tried to follow the object as it made its way across the sky. He eventually lost sight of it and returned to the base. Traffic controllers on the ground also confirmed they had seen the strange white light in the sky.
That’s when the real-life Project Blue Book got involved, led by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt. Ruppelt and his team set about trying to determine what Gorman had actually seen and if it could potentially pose a threat to national security. After investigating all the evidence, they decided that Gorman had probably just been chasing a lighted balloon through the sky.
But this theory has some major holes, particularly speed. Scientists can’t satisfactorily explain how a balloon could outpace an F-51 aircraft manned by a highly trained pilot. Additionally, the light’s ability to turn on a dime lends a lot of doubt to the lighted balloon theory, which would be unable to perform such maneuvers.
So the question remains more than 60 years later: what did Gorman really see? Was it a simple weather balloon and a trick of the light? Was it a secret Soviet aircraft running tests in our airspace? Or was it something entirely different?
Project Blue Book premieres January 8 on A&E.