The United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has released reams of previously unseen documents reporting and carefully detailing UFO sightings in the 1950s from all over the world. The classified papers come from locations as far-flung as Minneapolis and Morocco, and include details of intelligence agents' discussions on the danger posed by the aircraft and interviews with experts on the phenomenon.
One of the files deals with reports of UFOs or 'unidentified aircraft' over Uranium Mines in the Congo. "Two fiery disks were sighted over the uranium mines located in the southern part of the Belgian Congo ... the disks glided in elegant curves and changes their positions many times so that from below they sometimes appeared as plates, ovals and simply lines," the 1952 papers state. They document that the phenomenon lasted for 10-12 minutes to the point that a local airfield commander pursued the objects. "On his first approach he came within about 120 meters of one of the disks. According to one of his estimates the saucer had a diameter of 12-15 meters and was discus shaped.
"The inner core remained absolutely still and a knob coming out of the centre and several small openings could be plainly seen. The outer rim was completely veiled in fire," the paper claimed. It contained within it a cross-section diagram of the saucer.
Another document, a memorandum to the director of central intelligence Walter Bedell from 1952, assesses the dangers posed by UFOs, talking of "psychological considerations" and "the vulnerability of the United States to air attack". The memo questioned whether UFO sightings "could be controlled, could be predicted" and "could be used from a psychological point of view either offensively or defensively". It added that "public concern with the phenomenon... indicates that a fair proportion of our population is mentally conditioned to the acceptance of the incredible" and that "in this fact lies the potential for the touching-off of mass hysteria and panic".
In terms of air vulnerability, it seemed the CIA was worried was worried the detection of UFOs might interfere with its air defences against the Soviet Union. "At any moment of attack, we are now in a position where we cannot, on an instant basis, distinguish hardware for phantom and as tension mounts we will run the increasing risk of false alerts and the even greater danger of falsely identifying the real as phantom.
The papers can be read in full here on the CIA website.