As Season 2 of ‘Blue Book’ nears, a look back at famous band named for UFOs

415 night fighter squadron Northrop P61 Black Widow used during World War II. (US Government image)
415 night fighter squadron Northrop P61 Black Widow used during World War II. (US Government image)

Season 2 of Project Blue Book will premiere on The History channel on January 21, and if it’s as entertaining as Season 1, fans will be pleased. The series is based on true events, but as I pointed out in an earlier article, there’s also lots of fiction interwoven because this is a series for entertainment. It’s not a documentary and doesn’t profess to be. There are some quirky notes within this series, many of them related to hard truth. One of those quirks relates to a famous band and how it got its name.

As World War II drew to a close, pilots in the 415th Night Fighter Squadron started to see very strange objects in the skies. History.com gives an initial account:

“There were eight to 10 of them in a row, glowing fiery orange. Then Schlueter saw them off his right wing. They checked with Allied ground radar, but they registered nothing. Thinking that the lights might be some kind of German air weapon, Schlueter turn the plane to fight…only to have the lights vanish.

At first the men said nothing, fearing they’d be ostracized. But then the sightings spread through the unit.”

The sightings continued. During the same period in history, there was a popular satirical comic strip, “Smokey Stover.” Smokey was a firefighter, and he had a favorite saying, “Where there’s foo, there’s fire.”

The comic strip character loved the word “foo,” applying it to many different things.

The pilots soon coopted the term “foo”, using it to describe the unidentified (to this day) objects they were seeing in the night skies.

Segue to 1994 when Dave Grohl, drummer for Nirvana until Kurt Cobain’s death, began to work on his music. The first album featuring the Foo Fighters had only one performer—Grohl. Grohl at the time was into reading about UFOs, and he came across the story of the World War II foo fighters. Grohl wanted to give an impression the album was made by a number of band members instead of one. So he coopted the term “Foo Fighters” and the rest is music history.

Even today, we don’t know what those World War II pilots encountered. That’s just one quirk in the Project Blue Book series. In season 1, there are also nuanced references to the CIA mind control project MK Ultra. Many of the documents in that project were deliberately destroyed, but enough remain to remind us it’s a smart thing to always keep a close eye on what our government is doing.

I watched season 1 of Project Blue Book and I enjoyed it. As I said, much of the series is fictional. The episodes are, however, based on actual investigations that took place, and we can safely assume we’ll never be told the whole truth about UFO sightings and government investigations. It’s fun to research each incident after an episode, and one thing becomes clear. There are many sightings that to this day cannot be explained.

As an aside, the Foo Fighters’ song “There Goes my Hero” is one of my favorites. Rebecca frequently covers it in her shows.

(Kay B. Day/January 10, 2020)

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