Captain Edward J. Ruppelt would be the first head of Blue Book. He was a decorated Airman from WW II, and later earned an aeronautics degree. He had also replaced some of the earlier terms given to the UFO enigma, such as "flying saucers," and "flying discs," with the more technical "unidentified flying objects." Ruppelt is credited as leading a serious effort to understand what UFOs really were.
Ruppelt implemented several upgrades to previous efforts to study the situation of UFOs. For one, he initiated a questionnaire for reporters. This would compile a more accurate statistical data base. He employed the Battelle Memorial Institute to computerize, as it were, the data. Ruppelt demanded neutrality among his group members, and anyone leaning too far one way of the other would soon find himself out of the group.
Ruppelt sought advice from scientists and other experts in an attempt to find an answer to the mystery of the UFOs. He also released press releases for public consumption, and classified reports for military intelligence. Under his leadership, two very important cases were analyzed, the Lubbock Lights, and the Washington D.C. wave of 1952.
One of the most important members of Blue Book was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was listed as a scientific consultant. Hynek had already served on Project Sign and Project Grudge. Though a skeptic in the beginning, he would become the most well known and respected UFO investigator of his era. He also developed a system of categorizing UFO sighting reports, coining the lasting phrase, "close encounters." He would be involved in the investigation of the most dramatic UFO cases of his time.
When Ruppelt left for a brief period of time for another assignment, and and when he returned, he was surprised to see his staff reduced from ten or more to just two. Frustrated, he finally left Blue Book. He was replaced in March, 1954, by Captain Charles Hardin. Ruppelt would write about Hardin... "he thinks that anyone who is even interested [in UFOs] is crazy. They bore him."
In 1956, Hardin was replaced by Captain George T. Gregory, who was noted as being more "anti-UFO" than Hardin. Very few reports were investigated during this time frame, and they were quickly determined to be of little importance.
In 1958, Gregory was replaced by Major Robert J. Friend, who made an attempt toward a more serious approach to the UFO problem, but his efforts were thwarted by lack of funds, and personnel. He would eventually recommend that Blue Book be dissolved.
1963 would see another head of Blue Book, Major Hector Quintanilla, who for the most part, assumed the role of debunker. Many critics claimed that by this time, Blue Book had little, if any, credibility left.
Finally, Secretary of the Air Force Robert C. Seamans, Jr. announced that Blue Book would be closed, because further funding "cannot be justified either on the grounds of national security or in the interest of science."
The last publicly acknowledged day of Blue Book operations was December 17, 1969, but officially it closed on January 30, 1970.
Almost without exception, the Blue Book legacy is one of disregard of sighting facts and downright debunking cases of high credibility. Today, the United States government does not investigate UFOs. At least not officially.