1952 Pentagon Press Conference on Flying Saucers

The Press Conference

On July 29th, 1952, the U.S. Air Force held an official press conference on Flying Saucers. It is considered the largest press conference since the end of World War 2. At the center of it all was Major General John A Samford, the Air Force’s Director of Intelligence. Footage from this single conference has cemented itself in American popular culture as a significant moment in the history of the modern UFO phenomenon. General Samford’s statements have been analyzed, and his speech pattern studied, all in hopes of discovering if there was more than meets the eye with this notable press conference. Ultimately, the conference was in response to the frenzy of UFO sightings over restricted airspace in Washington, D.C., and around the United States. With newspapers reporting on flying saucer sightings on a daily basis throughout July 1952, the general public had become quite alarmed. In an effort to calm the hysteria, the Air Force held this now-historic press conference to address the issue.

Who Was There?

Behind the scenes and in addition to Samford were other highly ranked military personnel likely advising him on what to say publicly for the press.

(From left to right: Roger Ramey, Edward J. Ruppelt, John A. Samford)

Pictured here is Major General Samford in conversation with General Roger Ramey of Roswell Army Air Field, the man who reportedly had a hand in covering up the Roswell Incident just five years earlier. Ramey famously came up with the weather balloon story in 1947 to detract reporters from the Flying Saucer headline. Interestingly enough, some newspapers reported that both Samford and Ramey answered questions for the media. Furthermore, these reports ironically regard Ramey as one of the top experts on Flying Saucers. Behind them is Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the Air Force Officer generally credited for coining the term 'Unidentified Flying Object' or UFO. At around the same time as this press conference, the Air Force launched Project Blue Book to study and investigate UFOs, with Ruppelt as the project’s first director.

(Still frame from original 1952 newsreel film)

The Media

Newspapers reported that the press conference was approximately 90 minutes long. However, the footage released by the National Archives is less than 5 minutes and seems to be edited for brevity. Samford even did double takes on the same statements to get them right. If the press conference was reportedly 90 minutes long, could it be possible that there is more footage of this iconic moment in UFO history? Even 70 years later, this press conference on Flying Saucers and the Air Force’s attempt to explain away UFO sightings is historic.


(Newsclippings on the 1952 Pentagon Press Conference on Flying Saucers)

Full Transcript of the 1952 General John A. Samford Flying Saucer Press Conference:

[Major General John A. Samford] I am here to discuss the so-called Flying Saucers. The Air Force interest in this problem has been due to our feeling of an obligation to identify and analyze to the best of our ability anything in the air that may have the possibility of threat or menace to the United States. In pursuit of this obligation since 1947, we have received and analyzed between 1 and 2000 reports that have come to us from all kinds of sources.

Of this great mass reports, we have been able adequately to explain the great bulk of them, explain them to our own satisfaction. We've been able to explain them as hoaxes, as erroneously identified, friendly aircraft as meteorological or electronic phenomena, or as light aberrations. However, there have been a certain percentage of this volume of reports that have been made by credible observers of relatively incredible things. It is this group of observations that we now are attempting to resolve.

Our basic difficulty in dealing with these is that there is no measurement of them that makes it possible for us to put them in any pattern that would be profitable for a deliberate, uh, custom sort of analysis to take the next step. We have, as of date, come to only one firm conclusion with respect to this remaining percentage. And that is that it does not contain any pattern of purpose or of consistency that we can relate with any, to any conceivable threat to the United States.

We can say that the recent sightings are in no way connected with any secret development by any department of the United States. We can say that the recent sightings are in no way connected with any secret development by any agency of the United States.

[Off-screen Reporter] Major Keyhole, as author of the book 'Flying Saucers Are Real,' what is your opinion of these new sightings of unidentified objects?

[Major Donald Keyhoe] With all due respect to the Air Force, I believe that some of them will prove to be of interplanetary origin. During a three-year investigation, I found that many pilots have described objects of substance and high speed. One case, pilots reported their plane was buffeted by an object which passed them at 500 miles an hour. Obviously, this was a solid object, and I believe it was from outer space.

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