Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have long inspired curiosity and speculation, but when did our fascination with UFOs really take off? A new television drama explores the origins of the UFO phenomenon, drawing from the incredible true story of the U.S. government’s decades-long investigation of reported UFO encounters.
The secret program — dubbed Project Blue Book — launched in 1952 and was monitored by the U.S. Air Force until the project’s termination in 1969. During that time, experts investigated more than 12,000 reports of UFO sightings, of which over 700 remain unexplained, according to records in the National Archives.
Now declassified, the most intriguing of these unsolved cases are revisited in the History Channel series “Project Blue Book.” Premiering tonight (Jan. 8) at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT., the show offers UFO aficionados and skeptics alike a peek at how it all began.
Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger on HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) stars as Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the real-life professor and astrophysicist who acted as the science adviser for Project Blue Book, and who is known to many as the “father of UFOlogy,” show creator and executive producer David O’Leary told Live Science.
In the series, Hynek joins Air Force officials to investigate and explain sightings of peculiar lights in the sky, mysterious glowing fireballs, “flying saucers” and even purported extraterrestrials, History Channel representatives said in a statement.
“The government had to respond to the fact that military pilots, commercial airline pilots, police officers — people with trained eyes — were seeing objects in the sky that they couldn’t understand,” O’Leary said.
But as “Project Blue Book” unfolds, Hynek comes to an unpleasant realization: His scientific curiosity about UFOs may run counter to a government agenda that wants to bury events that prove unthreatening, but nonetheless truly defy explanation, O’Leary said.
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