By Fran Ridge

UFOs had  always been a strange topic in the media in the 1940's, 50's and 60's, and proponents were somewhat rare. I got interested in 1956 when I had read Captain Edward J. Ruppelt's book, "Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" and I was definitely hooked. But I still remember the groans of the skeptics and the United States Air Force. There were a lot of noisy skeptics in those days and the news media always played up the hoaxes and practical jokers.

As we celebrate over 60 years of monumental investigation and research by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and the 20th Year Anniversary of the fully authorized web site on Dec. 15, 2017,  I look back at how far we have come. I began my quest with NICAP in November of 1960 with the authorization of my seven-man NICAP Subcommittee team, Indiana Unit #l at Vincennes, Indiana. Our unit had no computers, no fax machines, no cell phones. All we had was an old Underwood typewriter, along with its messy and blurry carbon copies, a  bulky and expensive reel-to-reel tape recorder, and pay-per copy Zerox machines. Sighting data was recorded on a Form 97 with some attached notes, and primary data was kept on 3x5 cards. Reports were acquired by checking newspapers, and national and global incident information updates came four times a year in the form of the NICAP publication, "The UFO Investigator". We were in a sighting lull and there were only sporadic local sightings for us to work with. Rarely was there a radio or TV story, locally or regionally.

One of our scientific advisors had worked on Project Saucer (code-named "SIGN') and he helped me build a prototype, the forerunner of MADAR, my "Magnetic Anomaly Detection And Automated Recording" system. In the late 40's Project SIGN had been aware that SOME UFOs produced electromagnetic fields. There had been compass needle deflections reported during UFO sightings. (We have over 150 such cases on file today).

During those first years I investigated some incredible reports by some relatively credible people.  The UFO story was over a decade old by the time I got involved.
Something was flying around in our skies and we knew it. We also knew they were not "ours". It wasn't until decades later that many researchers were able to use the Freedom of Information Act and a deluge of documents were in their hands. Some researchers read books. Others also conducted field investigations and talked to witnesses right in the field. I had done both. But my experience was a little different than most. I had seen jets chase UFOs and later had a close encounter of my own. And that was just the beginning.

By 1963 the car chases and low-level sightings began to be reported and we had a local sighting concentration in S. Illinois and S. Indiana, which included E-M effects and hints at radiation. The next year the landings were being reported, beginning with the Socorro, NM case.

By August of 1964 I had to report for TDY (temporary duty) with the U.S. Army at Fort Knox, KY. My basic training and AIT ended in December and I returned to my home town of Vincennes, Indiana, to serve out the 6-year hitch with the Army National Guard. While at Fort Meade, MD, the famous Pack River radar incident ad taken place, but I didn't know about it until I got home. One of my buddies had been stationed there and sent me a postcard about it. Sightings were starting to pick up in 1965.

The skeptics, and the Air Force in particular, would comment: "If only we had sightings by reliable sources." We knew that they had, but it was years later before we had documents showing just how serious members of Project SIGN were and how the September 1947 secret conclusion "the reported phenomena are real", was reached. It wasn't the thousand or so civilian reports in the summer of that year, (Roswell wasn't even talked about in those years) that proved something real was being observed.  It was the pilots telling their commanders.  It was the military sightings and reports by the commercial pilots that formed my opinion very early.

Project SIGN was replaced by Project GRUDGE and finally Project BLUE BOOK. Blue Book had closed down in January of 1970 with 701 "Unknowns" listed out of over 12,000 cases. By 2007 our NICAP site had found and documented over 564 of those cases, so 137 were  "missing". However, they were not actually "missing". We just didn't know for sure which ones that were out of the IFO ("Identified') files Blue Book's last skeptical director, Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla had "changed" before he left that post. By going through the BB archives in his research, our colleague, Brad Sparks, discovered more cases to add to the actual unknowns.  We have over 1700 cases, twice as many as the Air Force had claimed. Dr. James McDonald and Jacques Vallee both had gone through the Project Blue Book files prior to this and had suggested  that 3,000-5,000 of the cases were UNKNOWNS. In March of 1968 McDonald even raised that number estimate from 3600 to 4800.

The official NICAP organization had declined and I had become a State Section Director for MUFON (1971) and I was a stranger in a strange land. I had no local consultants or field investigators right after my job transfers. But armed with all that I DID have I logged preliminary incident reports on my Form M (Message Slip) from telephone reports submitted by citizens, airport tower controllers, and law enforcement. The big 7" reel-to-reel recorder connected to my phone line kept a log of every call that would come in.  And I took advantage of the media every chance I got. I was pro-UFO and you could tell it. I wasn't pretending, but I also think that's what it took to get the media, law enforcement and the public to cooperate.

By that time I had had 13 years in the field doing investigation and I had done onsite investigations talking personally to witnesses. I knew who was full of it and I knew when they were serious. I knew there was a lot of "noise" out there, but I also knew there was some "signal".

I had been collecting sightings from the six states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, sort of the forerunner of my UFO Intelligence Summary, to see if there were correlations between sightings and my detection system. This summary worked perfect and in 1973 I had perfected the detection system and named it MADAR for Multiple Anomaly Detection and Automated Recording.  A spike in the sighting graph was right in the middle of peaking world UFO events, something I wasn't prepared for.

And then four years later I really hit pay dirt.  Seven MADAR events in the summer of 1977 with UFOs in the region and ending with an 18 pulse, 3 min 29 second disturbance, and the radiation background doubled. Right at the same time the SETI antenna in Delaware, Ohio, 130 miles NE,  picked up the famous "WOW!" Signal! This all happened BEFORE that fall's release of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind!" A coincidence?

By 1985 I got caught up in the computer age and started putting the sightings I had accumulated in 25 years into a usable database. My first pc was a Commodore 64.  Soon I was upgraded to a full-fledged computer. Within a few years I had over 4,000 entries from the six states. I had also taken advantage of all the sources and newsletters all over the country to create the new U.S. version of the "UFO Intelligence Summary", a chronological listing of events for researchers to see what was going on and where. lt was extremely helpful for the MADAR Project because this list was my primary intelligence source, as useful as flight plans used by ARTC's (Air Route Traffic Controllers) with their radar displays that helped them identify targets. It told me if a sighting had occurred at the same time as a MADAR alert.

In 1986 I became the State Director for Indiana and I trained over a hundred and fifty people, always having at least two dozen Field Investigators with all of lndiana's 92 counties covered. My personal contact with witnesses was now much less, but my FI's were doing a great job. Indiana had its share of good reports, the best ones even before I came on the scene. Indiana had always been hot.

By 1994 I had compiled all of this into a book I wrote, entitled, "Regional Encounters: The FC Files".

In December of 1997 I created the NICAP web site to archive all the work of NICAP and its subcommittees, especially the labors of Maj. Donald Keykoe and Richard Hall. With the aid of all my heroes and former members I formed the "A-Team" to build that site and preserve all the information anyone worth his or her salt had provided for over 40 years.

The sightings that impressed me the most were the close encounters rather than distant ones, but Nocturnal Lights and Daylight Discs (objects beyond 500') can be important evidence when used in conjunction with good close encounters or radar or MADAR cases. In my research studies and data printouts I invented a filing system based on the eleven MUFON Form numbers for special evidence cases.

Form 11 cases became Category 11-Aviation_Cases
These are the reports that got my attention at the very beginning, and the military versions are what prompted the SECRET Twining_letter. Pilots, actually up in the UFO environment are better witnesses, and sometimes with the objects in-between them and the ground. Their testimony far outweighed distant ground sightings by average civilians. Over 3,000 sightings from aircraft have been catalogued by Dr. Richard Haines. Dominique Weinstein had catalogued over 1400 such cases. The NICAP site lists thousands of them but over 200 incidents are there with supporting documents.

Category 10-Nuclear_Connection_Cases
Cat 10 events are those involving nuclear radiation or a nuclear connection.  In July of 2003 I set up the Nuclear Connection Project. The first thing I did was to have noted researcher, Larry Hatch, run a computer search on his vast "U" database and he was able to identify and select over 200 cases, "flagged" as potential nuclear connection incidents. This includes some of the most interesting incidents yet.

One such case re-investigated by Dr. James McDonald was witnessed by two tower controllers at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, on November 4, 1957. The object was an inverted egg about the size of a small sedan and it hovered right over the runway.  We noted that the object had over-flown Manzano Mountain, a major weapons and missile storage area. The UFO flew right-to-left along the East-West runway, then turned SW toward the tower, stopping near the nuclear weapons storage area for about a minute. McDonald mentioned that the UFO stopped near the Kirtland "Drumhead Area" where the B-58 operated. And, get this: the B-58 Hustler was a week away from a nuclear qualification run, and not far from where new weapons of mass destruction were moved by aircraft to the bomb test sites.

Category 9-RADAR_Cases
At some point right after the UFOs began being reported in the 40's, somebody mentioned, "if they would just pick up one of these things on radar......" Some of the best cases we have are radar cases and by January of 2013 we had over 500 on the NICAP site, well-documented. Skeptics then demanded radar cases with visual back-up. Plenty of those were documented as well and Dominique Weinstein provided over 76 radar/visuals to support this fact.

Category 8-Photographic_Cases
This group includes those involving photographic evidence, sometimes motion pictures, and more recently - video images. The latest report from photo researcher, Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, and the Anomaly Foundation which developed FOTOCAT (a world-wide catalog of UFO and IFO photographic cases) was that as of December of 2017, they had over 12,000 cases on file. But UFOs apparently don't want to be photographed up close, and the evidence suggests this.

Category 7-Entity_Cases
This group of incidents represent UFO reports involving humanoids or entities, which includes many alleged abduction cases. David Web has investigated hundreds of such cases and published reports on them.  In April of 2007 we released our report on the world-wide sighting wave of  1973, the year of the humanoids. My opinion now is that any humanoid case without a UFO should not be given much attention and that since "little people" stories are rampant in world history we should not let this class of evidence muddy the waters. Imagine trying to do a large crossword puzzle with three boxes of different pictures all thrown together.  Many of the "little people" stories probably  have nothing to do with the UFO phenomena. 

Category 6-Trace_Cases
This group is extremely interesting because it involves over 5600 Physical Trace Cases (CUFOS). This group of Close Encounters (also referred to as CE-II) tell us that many objects are about 30' in diameter, the number that keeps coming up in size estimates from sightings all over the world. Cat 6 includes the vast Roswell file and almost everyone is convinced that something very strange happened at Roswell, and almost no one believes the object was any kind of balloon. One researcher has a document he found in 2000 that shows major policy changes as a result of Roswell that proves something big happened that day.

Category 5-Medical_Incidents
Category 5 represent medical issues, psychological or physiological, and involve illness or injury due to UFO encounters.  Some of these are alleged abductions.

Category 4-Animal_Reactions
Animal Effects are very important evidence for several reasons. The effects themselves are worth noting, but the fact that animals don't hallucinate and react to the same stimulus as humans is important evidence. Joan Woodward, is an authority on such cases and has compiled hundreds of animal reaction incidents, many of which are already on the NICAP site.

Category 3-EME_Cases
These involve Electromagnetic Effects (E-M). One hundred and six cases were listed in the NICAP UFO Evidence report in 1964. Later, Mark Rodeghier of CUFOS compiled a list of over 500 cases. And Dr. Richard Haines has over 185 cases listed among his 3,000 sightings from aircraft. The early list compiled by NICAP was enough to convince me there was an urgent need to set up a detection system.  The NICAP site now houses over 250 detailed incidents.  The MADAR Project I formed in 1973 lists over 150 compass needle cases. and the project logged two dozen events in 20 years as well.

Category 1 & 2
The MUFON Forms I & 2 were used for investigation and computer input, respectively. Those two computer file numbers became my Cat 1 & 2.  Simple distant objects (Daylight Discs and Nocturnal Lights beyond 500') became Category 1. Close encounters, objects within 500', were now Category 2. 

The filing system on the NICAP site is based on those category numbers. And the most important pages on the NICAP site are the chronos which have simple listings and live links in many instances to detailed case directories which house actual documentation where possible. To find any case and you know the date, go to that chrono at
If you don't know the date, simply Google known detail or city, then put in a comma and the acroynm nicap.

One lesson I have learned through all the years of research and investigation is that we'll never be satisfied with what we have. A half century ago we had little to work with. The NICAP Site HQ today is a small, garage-sized office. It has four computers, four monitors, two printers, a flat bed scanner, and two external hard drives, all supported by a nice 2' deep, 8' x 6' L-shaped console desk. All but one filing cabinet is gone, all this replaced by digital files on the NICAP site. We are better equipped than the Air Force or the FBI or the CIA was in the early years.

The office./lab is also equipped with the older MADAR-II UFO detection system which has 4 cameras, a quad processor, a magnet variometer, 2 digital EMF meters, a geiger counter, a lightning detector and weather station, a police scanner and two aircraft scanners. The newer MADAR-III DataProbe is there as well, a cell-phone sized device with a 1.2 Gigahertz computer connected to the Ethernet and runs with about thirty other devices located all over the globe, all  displayed on a huge Map of the United States on a 42" flat screen monitor. The DataProbes measure and send
compass heading, Earth's geomagnetic field in milligaus, barometric pressure, to the MADAR server, all time-stamped with the Universal Time Code. Alerts from these dataloggers go out to each site's (nodes) email address. Soon the alerts will also go out in a cell phone text message and we will then have our long-sought early warning system so we can grab hand-held equipment to gather even more data if we get the opportunity.

So what have we learned so far, or what will we be able to do with all this? In my humble opinion we will know what we have known all along. We're not alone. All the arguments that say it isn't so, or simply can't be, become moot points when we come to grips with the fact that it only takes one real incident of alien behavior to make it just another life's realities. Then, suddenly some of the die-hards will scramble to put the pieces together that we had all this time

In the meantime some incidents of high-strangeness and technological importance have been going on behind the scenes. It has recently been leaked out that there have been at least 15 such incidents since 2004. We are in the process of getting directories set up for these major events. One of these is the case below.

For two weeks in November 2004, UFOs had dogged the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz and the
U.S.S. Princeton, a missile cruiser (carrying the Navy's top of the line radar detection equipment) in the Pacific about 100 miles from San Diego. On the 14th, in broad daylight, Two F-18 Hornets tried to intercept and object dove from 80,000 feet to 20,000' and hovered over ocean and either dropped out of radar range or shot straight back up. The radio operator on the USS Princeton instructed Commander Fravor and Commander Slaight to investigate. The two fighter planes headed toward the objects. The Princeton alerted them as they closed in, but when they arrived at “merge plot” with the object, so close that the Princeton could not tell which were the objects and which were the fighter jets, neither Commander Fravor nor Commander Slaight could see anything at first. There was nothing on their radars. Then, Commander Fravor looked down to the sea. It was calm that day, but the waves were breaking over something that was just below the surface. Whatever it was, it was big enough to cause the sea to churn. Hovering 50 feet above the churn was an aircraft of some kind, whitish, that was around 40 feet long and oval in shape. The craft was jumping around erratically, staying over the wave disturbance but not moving in any specific direction, Commander Fravor said. The disturbance looked like frothy waves and foam, as if the water were boiling. Commander Fravor began a circular descent to get a closer look, but as he got nearer the object began ascending toward him. It was almost as if it were coming to meet him halfway, he said. Commander Fravor abandoned his slow circular descent and headed straight for the object. But then the object peeled away. “It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he said in the interview. He was, he said, “pretty weirded out.” The two fighter jets then conferred with the operations officer on the Princeton and were told to head to a rendezvous point 60 miles away, called the cap point, in aviation parlance. They were en route and closing in when the Princeton radioed again. Radar had again picked up the strange aircraft. “Sir, you won’t believe it,” the radio operator said, “but that thing is at your cap point.” “We were at least 40 miles away, and in less than a minute this thing was already at our cap point,” Commander Fravor, who has since retired from the Navy, said in the interview. By the time the two fighter jets arrived at the rendezvous point, the object had disappeared. The fighter jets returned to the Nimitz.  (CBS News, New York Times, Washington Post)

Many pilots have said the same thing for years, some over 70 years ago. "The reported phenomena are real."

Soon after we dropped two atomic bombs on 200,000 civilians in Japan we started working on new delivery systems from captured German V-2's, and the UFO waves began. UFOs have been seen for over a century, but stepped up interest shows a cause and effect relationship. According to documents secured under the FOIA, the sightings occurred over secret bomb design and production facilities, then shifted to bomb storage areas. The trail of evidence is very clear.

In July of 1947 one of the most important meetings of the time took place to discuss a report we have, dated June 30th. The meeting signalled the start of the nuclear arms race. Upon reading certain portions of this document one must wonder if this is the reason for the start of the modern UFO wave of 1947. Mankind was embarking on a road to mass destruction, not only with atomic bombs that had already been used twice on civilians, but now even guided missiles to deliver them were being contemplated, nuclear platforms in space and or from orbit!  But some visible signs of all this had to have been taking place, visible from the air, just like our satellite detection of the stirrings of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, in the summer of 1947 that triggered that fever-pitched wave..  By researcher Ted Bloecher's count alone, in the summer of 1947, in a six week period, there were thousands of sightings in the United States, 853 cases catalogued and about half were daylight disc sightings. The massive wave came to a sudden halt when the reported crash of a UFO at Roswell, New Mexico was humiliating "explained away" in the press by the Army Air Force. After that the Air Force and the news media made it a point of ridiculing witnesses.

There were more sighting waves, with 1952 being the turning point in Air Force investigations. The story of how the CIA had a hand in this is a book in itself, but from there on things had to change. There was another wave in 1954, mostly in France and many of them reports of UFOs and humanoids. In 1957 the wave of sightings involved many reports of E-M effects, especially involving automobiles. It was a progression of events and each wave was different. The cold war that had begun right after WWII was heating up. Things were coming to a head and the world was a very dangerous place.

The year, 1967, encompassed a major part of the most intensive and long-lasting UFO sighting wave of all time. The wave was a U.S. and international UFO sighting wave that actually began in 1966.  And again, there was a number of humanoid cases reported along with the usual ground and air incidents.

Our liquid-fueled Titan missiles with  their lengthy fueling process left us open for surprise attack. It was necessary to replace them with solid fueled Minuteman missiles.  On April 21, 1967 the Strategic Air Command reached the level of 1000 operational Minuteman I and II ICBMs. It is extremely interesting, too, that it was actually 1966 when the US reached a peak of 31,700 of stockpiled nuclear warheads. The year 1967 had 30,893 stockpiled, the third highest total, and 1965 had 31,642 stockpiled warheads, the 2nd highest total. This was also the year of the third Arab/Israeli war (June 5-10).  

Serious things began to happen. The Minuteman Launch Control Facilities (LCFs) are located deep underground in remote areas of North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, and Montana; and today these facilities support the approximately 450 ICBMs that now comprise our land-based nuclear arsenal. Although the number of missiles has been considerably reduced since 1967, when the United States and the Soviet Union competed for military superiority, there were 150 missiles in Montana alone, with a flight of ten missiles and a LCF for each flight. On March 16, 1967, a UFO was observed at Malmstrom AFB. Right after that, missiles started to shut down. None of these missiles were on the same circuit!!!  We have documents to prove that Echo Flight "lost" ten Minuteman missiles which later miraculously came back online and nobody could explain why.  Oscar Flight also "lost" missiles but no documents were ever found.

By late
December of 1969, the Air Force 
had "officially" gotten out of the UFO business, but as always, important sightings were not ignored. The Bolender Memo states very clearly, "reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual 55-11 and are not part of the Blue Book system." Reports of UFOs, now referred to as UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) continue to be made.

According to the National UFO Reporting Center, we are in the midst of a major sighting wave. And the world has never been in such a dangerous situation. We're ready. MADAR is ready. But the answer is the same as it was 60 years ago: "The reported phenomena are real."

The big question is: With the world in even more turmoil, and nations living under the new threat of multiple nuclear-equipped countries, and a computer system that is extremely vulnerable to EMP and hackers, what is next with a phenomena that has been concerned with mankind for over a century?