Project Grudge and its 23% unexplained cases

Project Grudge was a short-lived program launched in 1949 to study unidentified flying objects. Containing 273 UFO sighting reports, 23% of these were listed as “unidentified”.

Project Grudge was formed when Project Sign was decommissioned officially on February 11, 1949. The name was about all that would change. Project Sign’s final report was classified “Secret.” At this time in history, there were a number of Air Force investigators who accepted the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence.

One small change from Sign to Grudge was the desire to actually explain or put a tag on every single report; not only a difficult task but totally without precedent. This would look good in a report, yet offer no new scientific theory as to what UFOs were.

One item of interest to the student of UFOs would be an article written by Sidney Shalett of the Saturday Evening Post about the Government’s research into UFOs. At the time, the name Project Grudge was not known to the public, and Shalett used the name “Project Saucer” instead. It has been said that Shalett penned the first public use of the term “UFO” in his article of April 30, 1949.

Grudge would fair no better than its predecessors, and closed down after about eight months. They issued a final report also, containing 273 UFO sighting reports. A whopping 23% of these were listed as “unidentified”.


Critics of Project Grudge said the program solely set out to debunk UFO reports, and very little actual research was conducted. In his book on the topic, Edward J. Ruppelt, Air Force Captain and director of Project Grudge, wrote: “It doesn’t take a great deal of study of the old UFO files to see that standard intelligence procedures were not being followed by Project Grudge. Everything was being evaluated on the premise that UFOs couldn’t exist. No matter what you see or hear, don’t believe it.”

Little was done for a time, until on September 11, 1951. A last gasp effort was organized by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who took over as head of Grudge. Shortly a month later, a new short lived effort was begun. Usually tagged Grudge II, about all that was new was office forms. The Battelle Memorial Institute, actually a think tank, was asked by the Government to take over the job of explaining UFO reports. They were to review all reports to date. In March of 1952, enter Project Blue Book, which would be the official UFO study group for the United States. Blue Book lasted until 1969.

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