header image

Montebello, California, 12/01/1957

[Filmmaker’s Name redacted], 1957, 8mm, silent with new score by John Pettit and Benjamin Warfield, 2:23
Location: Montebello, California
Shown at Home Movie Day Washington, DC

Transfer by the National Archives and Records Administration
Film courtesy of the National Archives
Thanks to: Audrey Amidon

About the Film

Project Blue Book was the United States Air Force’s third study into the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects, following the earlier Project Sign and Project Grudge in the 1940s. Between 1952 and 1969, 12,618 UFO reports were collected, including eighteen home movies.

Project Blue Book’s two goals were to systematically and scientifically analyze UFO-related data and to determine if they might pose a threat to national security. The Air Force ultimately concluded that there was no evidence that any of the UFO sightings it investigated were true extraterrestrial vehicles or national threats. Much of the Air Force’s efforts went into debunking flying saucer reports from the public.

On December 1, 1957, a mysterious sighting was filmed on 8mm film in Montebello, California. The clip begins with shots of the unidentified flying objects, then cuts to scenes of a child and mother outside. The man who shot the film (whose name is redacted from official Air Force documents), gave his film over to the Air Force’s Pictorial branch in Hollywood. They ultimately concluded that the objects in the film were probably weather balloons, despite the objections of the filmmaker.

The Project Blue Book records, including the films, were later transferred to the National Archives, who created high definition scans of 16mm blowups of the original films.


National Archives blog post on the Project Blue Book home movies

Original Air Force records on the Montebello film on Fold3.com

Transcript of the Air Force’s Montebello report’s Brief summary of sighting and February 1958 interview with the filmmaker.
1 December 1957

Montebello, California
Source’s children called attention to six “UFO’s” moving slowly westward. Took motion pictures of the objects. Although he claimed six objects in the sky, strip of film only shows 2 paired objects moving back and forth slowly, in unison.

Probably balloon

4 February 1958


On 31 January 1958 Mr. and Mrs. [NAME REDACTED] called at my home to pick up the 8mm film which they had loaned this office. We had finished duplication of the film at a local color film lab and the original 8mm film was returned to Mr. [NAME REDACTED]

I examined the camera, an 8mm Keystone Capri K28 1 1/2″ F3.5 telephoto lens Tiffon Photar S5 series 21.5mm.

The film used was Kodachrome Indoor Type A shot outdoors with a type-A filter. The distance was set on infinity and shot at 16 frames per second.

I asked Mr. [REDACTED] the following questions:

Q. What is your estimate of the altitude of the objects which you photographed?

A. About the same height as the light airplanes which I frequently see fly over the house, between 3,000 and 4,000 feet.

Q. Were they at any time as high as jet aircraft which make vapor trails?

A. No, definitely not.

Q. Did you see any smoke trail or any kind of trail from the object?

A. No, there was no visible trail of any sort.

Q. What was the direction of the flight?

A. The first pass sighted by the children came from the West and went in a northerly direction.

Q. Were they in any sort of formation?

A. Yes, a very close or tight formation in a 3/4 circular formation.

Q. At what speed, compared to a light plane passing over?

A. About the same speed, maybe a little slower.

Q. What direction was the second pass?

A. They came from the East heading West in an enlarged formation, split into pairs, with the point of the V formation to the right side of the formation.

Q. What was the speed of the pass?

A. About the same as the first pass, slightly slower than a light airplaine.

Q. What about the third pass?

A. This pass was not photographed, but the boy said they went over in a straight-line formation, opposite the viewers position at a very fast speed, at about the same altitude.

Q. What were the size of the objects?

A. That’s hard to say.

Q., Would you say they were as big in circumference as a circle including the wing tips and tail to nose section of a light airplane?

A. Yes, about the same size.

Q. Were they all the same size?

A. Yes.

Q. What shape?

A. They were circular, and relatively flat.

Q. What color?

A. Sort of white-blue-green glowing objects.

Q. What do you think they were?

A. I don’t know, but they were certainly not balloons or airplanes, like any I had seen before.

Richard D. Schaller
Captain USAF
Chief, Pictorial Branch
[Hollywood, California]