UFOs (just for fun) [warning: this is quite long]

UFOs (just for fun) [warning: this is quite long]

 All of a sudden, serious people are starting to take UFOs seriously.

“There’s footage and records of objects in the skies that — we don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory,” former President Barack Obama told CBS’s James Corden.

Many in Congress are curious, too, after receiving a report originating from a Pentagon task force detailing its investigations into unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), the preferred term for UFOs among specialists. The Pentagon Office of the Inspector General is also evaluating the government’s approach to UAPs with an eye to strengthening its monitoring and response. The highest levels of the American government are very, very interested in what’s up there in the sky.

When I was growing up, UFOs were the province of late-night talk radio and The X-Files. They had a roughly similar level of respectability to theories that the 9/11 attacks were an inside job, or that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy.

That stigma appears to be fading somewhat. In 1996, Gallup found that only 47 percent of Americans thought people reporting UFO sightings were seeing something real, and not imagining it. In 2019, when Gallup polled again, a majority, 56 percent, thought UFO observers were seeing something real.

The truth, and I cannot stress this enough, is out there.

Interestingly, the share of Americans saying the government “knows more about UFOs than it’s telling us fell” very slightly from 1996 to 2019. That may reflect the fact that the government has confirmed the reality of some of the most prominent UFO videos.

In a somewhat surprising development that helped kick-start the current round of UFO fascination, the government confirmed the authenticity of two videos featured in a 2017 New York Times story and a third one leaked a few months later, each of which depicts US Navy fighter pilots observing a strange object whose nature appears baffling to them.

We still don’t fully know what these videos depict, and at the risk of disappointing some readers, there’s no evidence that they depict alien aircraft. But it’s hard to overstate just how much these videos have changed the way the public, the government, and the mainstream press (most notably the New York Times) think and talk about UFOs — to the point where people may have misconceptions about what exactly we know given the available evidence.

Here’s a closer look at what these videos actually depict (and what they do not), how they came to light, and whether the resurgence of interest in UFOs should make us reassess what we think we know about UFOs and life beyond Earth.

The three canonical UFO videos behind the current wave of interest

The resurgence in interest in UFOs or UAPs, can generally be credited to three specific videos captured by the US Navy. The first two were leaked to the New York Times and written about on the front page in the December 17, 2017, print edition of the paper, while the third was leaked a few months later.

The first of these incidents, and probably the most important, is what’s called the USS Nimitz encounter, named after the supercarrier from which the jet pilot who observed the UFOtook off.

In November 2004, about 100 miles off the coast of San Diego, Cmdr. David Fravor and the pilot on his wing, Lt. Cmdr. Amy Dietrich, reported seeing what Fravor called a “white tic-tac looking object” the size of an F/A-18 with no wings, markings, or exhaust plumes, that, when approached, “turns abruptly and starts mimicking me.” Eventually, Fravor told 60 Minutes’ Bill Whitaker, it simply “disappeared.”

The USS Princeton, a cruiser in the area that had asked Fravor and Dietrich to investigate anomalous aerial phenomena, reacquired the target “seconds later,” Whitaker reports, “60 miles away.” Another flight crew took a video of the object using their forward-looking infrared camera (FLIR), leading the video to be dubbed the “FLIR1 video”:

An important note here: While Fravor and Dietrich believe that the object they reported seeing and the one in the FLIR1 video are one and the same, it’s hard to be sure of that identification. And, lacking such certainty, we also cannot be sure the object flew some 60 miles in a matter of seconds, a feat that explains much of why the object seemed so strange and impressive.

The second video, labeled “GIMBAL,” was taken by a fighter jet from the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, flying by the coast of Florida in 2015. “This is a fucking drone, bro,” one pilot is recorded saying. “There’s a whole fleet of them,” another adds.

The third video, “GOFAST,” also recorded in 2015 and first publicly released a few months after the other videos, in March 2018, features audio of laughing, audibly excited pilots observing a small white object appearing to fly over water at an extremely rapid pace:

These three videos set off the current wave of interest in UFOs/UAPs, but they’ve been followed by at least a couple more. This year, Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough confirmed that two recently leaked videos were taken by Navy pilots.

The first, taken above the USS Russell destroyer near San Diego in July 2019, depicts a “pyramid-like” object:

The other, taken that same month and in that same geographic area by the USS Omaha combat ship, shows what appears in the infrared camera to be a spherical object. Both videos were brought to light by filmmaker and reporter Jeremy Corbell, an enthusiastic believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis (the theory that UFO sightings reflect contact with alien civilizations) and an advocate for greater UFO disclosure.

While this post is lengthy, it is only the first in a series. If you want to be caught up on this topic stayed tuned for the next several weeks. It is interesting that after 74 years and hundreds of thousands of reported sightings and tens of thousands unexplained that this is just now being seriously investigated by the mainstream.