Three Famous UFO Sightings
Let's see... in 2020, we came close to World War Three, the acquittal of President Donald Trump, the spread of COVID-19, bushfires ravaging across Australia... and now, aliens.
Only in 2020 can the Pentagon tell us they've had encounters with UFOs and we all shrug it off. UFOs are all well and good, but when can I go outside again?
Now, let's be clear - UFOs do not equal aliens. A UFO is an 'unidentified flying object.' Also known as an unidentified aerial phenomenon. Given the fact that every government around the world is working on its own technology, it's rarely anything fun.
But just for one post, let's allow ourselves to have some fun.
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena
Back in 2007 and 2017, several videos were doing the usual rounds on the internet. I remember watching them at the time. Three grainy videos showing US navy pilots encountering UFOs and clearly being shocked by them.
On Monday 27th April, the Pentagon took the unusual step of declassifying these three videos. This was in an effort:
...to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real or whether or not there is more to the videos. After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena. Department of Defence website
This isn't that much of a surprise. We know the Pentagon ran an investigation into UFOs for at least five years. It was known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Because the Pentagon has no sense of humour.
Here are three more famous UFO sightings we still don't have an answer for.
Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting (1947)
This is the original UFO sighting and gave birth to the era of flying saucers.
On June 24, 1947, private pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying from Chehalis, Washington to Yakima, Washington in a CallAir A-2 on a business trip. While in the air, he claimed to see a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at speeds at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour.
He reported this to the staff at Yakima airport and his initial quotes had him describing these objects as a "saucer", "disc", "pie pan", or "half-moon."
Obviously, this captured the public's imagination. It wasn't long until the overwhelming attention frustrated Arnold. He said:
This whole thing has gotten out of hand. I want to talk to e FBI or someone. Half the people look at me as a combination of Einstein, Flash Gordon and screwball. I wonder what my wife back in Idaho thinks.
We don't use the word screwball enough in the UK. While most don't rate Arnold as particularly credible, we can't deny the impact his story had on the world.
The Phoenix Lights (1997)
On 13th March, 1997, a string of five lights in a V-formation was seen in the skies of Phoenix, Arizona. The sight was accompanied by red and orange light in the sky.
The National UFO Reporting Centre confirmed over 700 calls reporting the sighting. With that many calls, we can be pretty certain that there was something there. A witness, Bill Greiner, said of the reaction the people of Phoenix received:
It's like having 50.000 people in a stadium watch a football game and then having someone tell us we weren't there.
There's plenty to be sceptical about. The red and orange lights have been attributed to flares set off by the nearby Barry Goodwater Range. The V has been described as 'the size of a commercial jet' which... well... when you put it that way. Though, almost everyone agreed it moved in complete silence which would discount most commercial jets.
I think most interesting about this case was the reaction of the Governor of the time, Fife Symington. Initially, he mocked the whole phenomenon. He even had an aide dress as an alien for a press conference. However, Symington later claimed he had seen the lights and was also baffled.
I’m a pilot, and I know just about every machine that flies. It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery. Other people saw it, responsible people. I don’t know why people would ridicule it.
Naturally, a found footage science-fiction horror film based on the incident, called Phoenix Forgotten, came out in 2017. It's not a great movie.
The USS Nimitz Encounter (2004)
A slightly more recent one! On the 14th of November, 2004, the USS Nimitz reported a radar-visual encounter of an unidentified flying object by US fighter pilots of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group.
Two pilots, led by the commander of Strike Fighter Squadron 41, reported that they saw a flying object. Radar signals were seen by United States Navy ships and aircraft in the area as well, video recording of which has been released to the public. One of the pilots attempted to intercept the object, but it accelerated away before reappearing on radar 60 miles away. According to reports, it moved three times the speed of sound.
Bias, maybe, but I tend to give reports like this which come from the military a tad more credence. The incident report likely wouldn't have gone as far as it did without facts to support it.
There was naturally an investigation, as there should be when some aerial object buzzes a navy plane. This was one of the cases covered by the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. But thus far, there has been no explainations.
Keep Watching the Skies...
I have plans this year to cover more flying saucers, crop circles and even some little green men, so if this is your thing, don't forget to subscribe to the blog for future posts!
Anyway, here's a final thought from the magnificent Mark Hamill.