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UAP Means UFO – A Terminological History

What’s in a name? It is an important question to ask of the term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), now being disseminated and broadly accepted by the UFO community and, as we have learned recently, used officially by the Navy. Why did this terminology change from the time-tested, world-accepted, cross-language term UFO?

When Navy spokesperson Joseph Gradisher was asked by Law & Crime he stated “That’s because we want to destigmatize the reporting for our aviators, so they don’t hesitate to tell us what they have seen. Our aviators are not above ribbing the pilots who have spotted something that cannot be identified.”

It is claimed by Mr. Gradisher’s that UAP is “a term we borrowed from the UK” (Roger Glassel). The same claim was made by Nick Pope on Fox News. This may be true in the modern context, but curiously the term or some variation thereof has been used throughout UFOlogical history. This article will solidify the term UAP means UFO.

Early References

One of the most infamous Air Force funded studies, Project Blue Book Report #8 published on Dec. 31, 1952 eluded that “phenomena” and “object” are interchangeable:

Blue Book #14’s (CIA) official title includes “unidentified aerial objects”:

And in the summary section, first paragraph it states that unidentified aerial objects is interchangeable with “flying saucers” or “flying disks”:

Earlier records I could find are in The UFO Experience, by famous astronomer J. Allen Hynek. It cites Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) started in ’52 and National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) of ’56. Hynek proclaimed that these were the two best civilian UFO groups of their time.

A letter sent to APRO International Director Ms. Coral Lorenzen by CIA Legislative Counsel John S. Warner includes the term:

The Air Force UFO “Fact Sheet”

In the 1960, the Air Force UFO Fact Sheet included the term, and implied the term is interchangeable with UFO:

The Condon Report

The Condon Report of ’68 included a couple direct quotations:

Page 922
Page 984

And there are variations:

Page 84
Page 110

The Roswell Report

Several memorandums in the Roswell Report: Fact VS Fiction in the New Mexico Desert (1995) include the term. This one also eludes to the interchangeability of “objects” and “phenomena”:


I have tried to prove here that the not-so-new but newly-accepted and widely distributed term UAP does in fact means UFO. In the context of the ‘unidentifed aerial’ phrase, I’ve tried to solidify that Object can be replaced with Phenomenon or Phenomena. The overall conclusion is that all of these terms and phrases mean the same thing: UFO.

Special thanks to The Black Vault for helping find some of these references. If you find more examples of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena/Phenomenon/Object used in historical context, let me know.

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