Minnesota UFOs: A look at Project Blue Book case files

Photograph from case files of Project Blue Book. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration) (Supplied)

An archive of recently released UFO documents reveals a few unexplainable and unidentified sightings in Minnesota.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) created the "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Records Collection" required under the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act.

The collection will feature government documents related to Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP), also known as UFOs. The agencies have until the end of the year to "review, identify, and organize each unidentified anomalous phenomena record in the custody or possession of the office for disclosure to the public." 

The collection currently includes thousands of documents pertaining to Project Blue Book. Of those, the NARA released files on dozens of Minnesota sightings investigated by the government program.

What is Project Blue Book? 

The U.S. Air Force created Project Blue Book to investigate UFO sightings reported by civilians and military personnel. From 1947 to 1969, the program received 12,618 reported sightings, of which 701 remain "unidentified." 

According to Project Blue Book documents, the "unidentified" classification makes up the smallest number of reports. The most common evaluations are "identified" sightings, which are often categorized as satellites, aircraft, balloons, and astronomical events, including bright stars, planets, and meteors, that are mistakenly reported as UFOs. 

While most sightings were identified as such, some reports left investigators puzzled about what witnesses saw in the sky. Here are some unusual sightings in Minnesota investigated by Project Blue Book.

‘Flying saucer’ in Hamel 

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A letter from FBI Director Edgar J. Hoover relating to a UFO sighting in Hamel, Minnesota. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration)

From: Supplied

A Project Blue Book investigation looked into a "flying saucer" seen by two boys, ages 8 and 10, in Hamel, Minnesota. On Aug. 11, 1948, the boys were outside playing in their backyard when they claimed an object landed a few feet away. The object spun once, then shot straight up in the air and eventually disappeared. 

The children were "visibly frightened" and eventually told their parents about seeing a dull gray object that looked like two inverted plates approximately two feet wide, with no windows or wires, and made a whistling noise. 

The sighting was reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and an agent visited the house. At the scene, the agent noted a washtub covering the spot where the "flying saucer" landed. 

The spot "appeared as though some heavy object had landed there or had been set down — as the ground was dented and protruding rocks had been leveled," documents read. 

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A member of the military later went to the survey site, but the depression was partially filled with water. They took pictures of the indentation, collected dirt samples, and sent them to the FBI laboratory for evaluation.  

Then FBI Director John Edgar Hoover acknowledged receiving the materials and said, "This material is being given appropriate attention and your office will be subsequently advised," the letter reads. "I am assuring you of my desire to cooperate in these matters."

While the FBI didn't find any abnormalities in the samples, it was later sent to the Chemical Corps, a branch of the U.S. Army, but the findings were not disclosed in the 30-page report.

Project Blue Book records do not say whether the sighting was determined to be "unidentified," but documents note "no astronomical explanation is possible for this incident."

‘Wing-shaped object’ over Mankato

Photograph from case files of Project Blue Book of unidentified objects over Lubbock, Texas. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration) (Supplied)

On Nov. 24, 1951, an Air Force pilot reported seeing a "wing-shaped object" while flying over Mankato. The small milky white craft had an eight-foot wingspan and appeared to be hovering in the air.

The unknown object passed over the Air Force aircraft while flying at 25,000 feet, and the pilot noted it did not make any sounds or emit any exhaust fumes. The pilot attempted a 180-degree turn to try to catch the object, but it disappeared. 

This sighting was determined to be "unidentified". 

UFO above Minneapolis

Photograph from case files of Project Blue Book. Unknown location. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration) (Supplied)

Two Air Force pilots and a civilian reported an unidentified object over Minneapolis on Nov. 30, 1953. The object appeared as a bright round light changing colors between white, red, blue, green and yellow. 

According to records, the light stayed stationary at around 3,000 feet and appeared "to be about the size of a pea held out at arm's length." After about 30 minutes, the object disappeared. 

The control tower at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport received reports of the object and scanned the sky, but nothing was detected on the radar. The Project Blue Book case file did not say whether this sighting was "unidentified" but noted there were no balloons or aircraft in the area at that time. 

3 General Mills engineers

Photograph from case files of Project Blue Book dated May 16, 1955, in New York City. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration) (Supplied)

The 40-page Project Blue Book case file details a UFO sighting reported by three research engineers at General Mills Aeronautical Laboratories in Minneapolis. 

According to the case files, on Oct. 15, 1953, the engineers were tracking a 79-foot balloon over St. Paul at 73,000 feet and noticed white smoke lower down in elevation. The object appeared to be moving horizontally at 900 mph before diving straight down.

The engineers said the object seemed to be glowing during the dive. As it leveled off, the smoke trails vanished, and the object eventually disappeared "in a flash."

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The engineers described the unidentified object as a gray mass with fuzzy edges but said it was hard to see clearly through the theodolite, an instrument used for measuring angles. 

They believed the flying object was a jet aircraft, but the case files state there were several unusual factors, such as the speed, lack of sound, and that the vertical dive was a "highly dangerous if not suicidal maneuver." 

It was later determined the balloon was the only known air traffic at that time, and the sighting was determined to be "unidentified."

Unknown object follows Air Force flight

Photograph from case files of Project Blue Book taken on July 16, 1952 in Salem, Massachusetts. (Credit: National Archives and Records Administration) (Supplied)

An Air Force pilot reported seeing an unknown aircraft that appeared to be following their flight from Barskdale, Louisiana, to Minneapolis on June 1, 1954. The object was first spotted 400 miles south of Minneapolis and stayed in continuous view until the pilot turned around in Minneapolis to head back toward Barksdale. 

The pilot reported that the object appeared to have "running lights" and varied in altitude from 24,000 to 44,000 feet. The pilot asked a nearby plane to turn off its lights, but the object was still visible. According to case files, radars in the vicinity were unable to detect the object. 

The sighting was determined to be "unidentified."

Now, decades later, people are still reporting their experiences across the state. Over 2,000 possible UFO sightings in Minnesota have been recorded by the National UFO Reporting Center.