When it comes to people who made significant contributions to UFO research, then J. Allen Hynek’s name should be on the top of the list.
It all started in September 1947 when the US Air Force, bothered by mysterious objects in the sky, decided to investigate it, which resulted in the creation of Project Sign. Less than a year later, the personnel working on the project realized that they needed an astronomer to go through the reports.
And that’s when the 37-year-old J. Allen Hynek (the then-director of the McMillin Observatory at Ohio University) joined Project Sign. Hynek provided assistance to the government during the war in terms of devising new defense tech. This is another reason why the US Air Force trusted him with such a crucial task.
Project Sign – J. Allen Hynek’s Findings
Project Sign continued until February 1949. Before its culmination, around 237 cases were evaluated. As per Hynek, about 32% of cases stemmed from astronomical phenomena. Moreover, 35% of incidents were deemed as noncritical as the reported mysterious objects were mainly birds, balloons, rockets, etc.
As for the other 33%, no explanation could be provided for 13% of the cases due to a lack of evidence. As for the remaining 20%, there was evidence but the cases still remained incomprehensible.
In February 1949, Project Grudge overtook Project Sign. Hynek wasn’t involved in the project but criticized it as the project was focusing on proving that there was no such thing as a UFO. Moreover, the said project wrapped up after it was decided that the matter of mysterious stuff in the sky didn’t warrant additional study.
Project Blue Book – The Next Step
Despite Project Grudge denying the existence of UFOs, the incidents kept on occurring. And fast forward to 1952, Project Blue Book came into existence. And this time, Hynek joined the team. Just like Project Sign, his role was to analyze the reports of UFO sightings and find out if they could be explained on astronomical grounds.
Hynek would also express his disappointment with how people reporting UFO sightings were trolled. Not only was it unfair to the witnesses but it also deterred others from sharing their stories.
Fast forward to the 1960s, Hynek solidified his status as the world’s top expert on UFOs. However, by that time, he had grown tired of Project Blue Book due to it being adamant about debunking UFO sightings. On the other hand, the officials involved with the project started to think that Hynek was a liability. Additionally, some of his theories didn’t sit well with his believers.
However, the top UFO researcher remained a part of the project so he could keep accessing the relevant data collected over the years. In 1969, Project Blue Book shut down permanently.
Post-Blue Book Adventures – The Introduction of Close Encounters
Nearly three years after the demise of Project Blue Book, Hynek published a book titled “The UFO Experience.” This book introduced the people to Close Encounters, a method implemented by Hynek to classify UFO cases.
He explained that Close Encounters of the First Kind referred to UFOs spotted from a decent distance that would allow the witnesses to note down some details. Close Encounters of the Second Kind referred to those incidents where the UFO left a physical impact such as scaring animals, causing car alarms to go off, burning trees, etc.
Last but not least, in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, witnesses mentioned seeing occupants in or close to a UFO.
Around 13 years prior to his death in 1986, Hynek founded the Center for UFO Studies. There’s no doubt that the work he did in the UFO research field was second to none. According to Hynek’s son, Joel, his father taught him the lesson that it is extremely important to keep an open mind at all times.