Sunday, August 19, 2007

You Say 200-2, I Say 80-17, Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

The title above, my play on a once popular song concerning the word, tomato, makes much ado about calling the same thing by different names, or, in this case, by different numbers. Air Force Regulation 80-17 appeared in 1966 as a replacement for AFR 200-2, that troublesome, oft-publicized (especially by NICAP) document advising military personnel about the reporting of unidentified aircraft and the like to authorities and, of more than passing interest to government officials, to the press and public. One may easily speculate that the new number varied widely from the original because officials wanted the public to forget the number 200-2, which had become known essentially as "that Air Force UFO regulation."

AFR 80-17 didn't really differ that much from 200-2, but I was energized enough about it to send off a three-page letter to Rep. Gerald Ford's office in October, 1966. I think, as a teenager with unreasonable expectations, that I anticipated a little more freedom for military personnel to report UFO sightings publicly with the release of the new Air Force reg, but that clearly was not to be. Ford's office quickly signed off on my comments with a standard response, and this time the signature appears different than on previous letters. This may also be my final communication with Ford's office, but should something additional turn up I'll include it.