When Ground Observers Spotted UFOs

No, gentle readers, you read that headline correctly.  I was going to write this entry a bit later but apparently Trump is talking UFO and the US Navy has revised its guidelines on how to report UFOs.

The GOC was actually tasked to spot UFOs. Well, not in so many words but being under the Air Force meant that observers were supposed to report ALL airborne objects, not just aircraft. The regular Aircraft Flash included non-aircraft objects like balloons, blimps, and “unknown” in column 2.


1955 Aircraft Flash Form

In 1953, Operation Skywatch rolled out with a massive publicity push to recruit hundreds of thousands of volunteers for the program. Since the actual threat of enemy planes was very low and air traffic a fraction of what it is today, many observation posts took up other duties such as spotting forest fires and hazardous weather.

Air Intelligence Service Squadrons

But what would happen if an observer actually spotted an enemy aircraft and it was successfully intercepted? Enter the 4602d Air Intelligence Service Squadron (AISS). Air Intelligence Squadrons performed a wide range of surveillance, counterintelligence, and related duties starting I believe in WWII (I haven’t researched this in depth so send an Aircraft Flash if this is wrong and I’ll update the page). During the Korean War, the 6004th AISS also interrogated downed enemy pilots as well as pilots who had escaped enemy territory, dropped spies behind enemy lines, ran missions to rescue pilots who had been shot down in enemy territory.

In 1951, the Air Force determined that they needed a similar squadron in the United States to deal with downed enemy aircraft and interrogate enemy pilots. They also dealt with recovering debris from downed experimental aircraft. There were about 18 units of the 4602d stationed around the US. Training for this elite team consisted of a wide variety of skills related to recovering pilots and aircraft from remote wilderness locations and extensive Russian linguistics. Training objectives were as follows:

  1. All male personnel trained in skiing and Arctic survival.
  2. All field personnel trained in horse and pack animal operations.
  3. All linguists cross trained in technical intelligence.
  4. All technical personnel intelligence cross trained in intelligence operations.
  5. All linguists and intelligence operations specialists instructed in interrogation procedures.
  6. At least thirty-four (34) officers and airmen completing the parachute training course at Fort Benning, Georgia.
  7. All squadron personnel trained in the essentials of public speaking.

I think it’s interesting that the first item lists “all male personnel”, implying that women were also in this squadron. I haven’t found any evidence of this, especially since women in the military at this point were mainly either on the medical side or clerical but again, if you have additional information, send an Aircraft Flash.

But what about the the UFOs? I’m here for the UFOs!!

I got you.

Professional UFO Spotters

In 1954, the 4602d was tasked to record and investigate all sightings of UFOBs, that’s early Air Force for Unidentified Flying OBject. I don’t know when the B was dropped from the acronym. A UFOB was exactly that – something that wasn’t identified. By 1955, there was a whole manual on dealing with UFOBs. My research only deals with the GOC and related organizations and activities. I don’t know how Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s program to investigate UFOBs, ties in with all of this. Maybe it grew out of the work of the 4602d because there were so many sightings during this period and into the 60s? Again, if you know more, send that Aircraft Flash.


The 4602d Guidebook, which I assume was issued to local Civil Defense offices.

Being that the GOC was ultimately under the Air Force, they also received guidance on how to work with the 4602d. Like all Civil Defense propaganda, the information stressed that timely reporting of information is vital to the survival of our country. Just one observer could be the key to stopping the ultimate destruction.


First two pages of the 4602d guide.

In the case of a downed enemy aircraft or UFOB, there were numerous ways citizens could report their observations. One of which was to the GOC or local filter center. The GOC was also tasked with assisting the FBI and other agencies with the location and recovery of the aircraft, debris, and/or pilot/remains. Given that during the 1950s, there were thousands of UFOB spottings, I’m sure there must have been some busy times.


Working with the FBI and reporting from the 4602d guide

The GOC was retired in 1959 and Project Blue Book was terminated in 1969. Things were pretty quiet for a while. Then recently, three senators, including Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received a briefing on Navy pilots who have spotted UFOs. And not to be alarmist but in 2017, news got out that the Pentagon has been investigating UFO sightings since 2009. Now the upgraded term is “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon” (UAP)

Could the GOC be revived as well? Probably not as we have technology that is far superior than a team of ground observers could ever be. But if these UFOBs or UAPs are evading that technology, maybe it’s time to look to the skies with our own eyes again.

2 thoughts on “When Ground Observers Spotted UFOs

  1. Pingback: More UFO Sightings | Ground Observer Corps – Operation Skywatch

  2. Pingback: The GOC and World UFO Day | Ground Observer Corps – Operation Skywatch

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