This could have been the day that finally answered the burning question: are there aliens? Unfortunately, we will still have to wait.
A US government report on UFOs said on Friday it had found no evidence of extraterrestrials, but acknowledged 143 reports of “unidentified aerial phenomena” since 2004 that could not be explained.
The report was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with substantial input from the military. The study is part of the largest public effort to date to address decades of rampant UFO speculation, rumors and conspiracy theories.
Some of the more intriguing cases come from Navy pilots who said they saw UFOs – and filmed some of them – off the east coast of the United States over a period of several months in 2014 and 2015.
Pilots, including some who have spoken publicly, say the mysterious objects moved with exceptional speed, agility and acceleration they had never seen before. And in some incidents, pilots claimed the objects were underwater.
The report was commissioned by Congress and highlights an increased willingness by government officials to discuss UFOs without fear of being openly ridiculed.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio lobbied for the study and said in a statement, “This report is an important first step in cataloging these incidents, but it is only a first step. work to be done before we can truly understand whether these air threats present a serious national security problem. “
A recent increase in sightings
Most of the unexplained views come from the past two years, as the Air Force and Navy have formal procedures in place to report such incidents.
To begin with, the government uses the term “unusual aerial phenomena” to avoid referring to UFOs and the stigma that often accompanies talking about them.
Yet the report noted that “the limited amount of high-quality Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) reports hamper our ability to draw firm conclusions. “
Although the report could not provide many answers, it offered a range of possibilities.
He said UFOs, or PANs, could be part of a secret US government or military project, but did not cite any such cases.
Additionally, they could be part of a clandestine program in another country with advanced air capabilities, such as Russia or China, although the report offers no evidence that this is the case.
In some incidents, UFOs have shown “unusual flight characteristics. These sightings could be the result of sensor errors, impersonation or observer misperception and require additional rigorous analysis,” adds The report.
The main content of the report was widely disclosed to the media earlier this month, and few minds are likely to change.
For UFO skeptics, the report will likely reinforce their doubts that aliens periodically fly by at lightning speed without bothering to send a clear message.
For UFO enthusiasts, report recognition of so many unexplained objects is likely to generate calls for more resources to investigate the matter.
Intelligence agencies and the US military have been required to produce this report after funding was included in a huge expense invoice approved by Congress late last year which focused primarily on COVID relief.
Former President Donald Trump signed the invoice on December 27, which then gave the Office of the Director of National Intelligence 180 days to produce the report and send it to Congress.
How it started
As NPR’s Bill Chappell noted Earlier this month, the real starting point for UFO speculation and possible government involvement dates back to Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. According to true UFO supporters, it was at that time the US Air Force reportedly found seized an alien spacecraft and its occupants.
In reality, an Air Force balloon intended to spy on the Soviet Union’s nuclear program crashed near Roswell during a test flight. The Air Force quickly cleaned up the crash site and did not want to talk about the underground program, known as Project Mogul.
But it started UFO conspiracies still going strong to this day.
The Air Force began its own program to investigate UFO sightings in 1947, called BLUE BOOK project. Over the next two decades, 12,618 sightings were reported. When the project ended in 1969, about 700 sightings were still classified as “unidentified,” according to the National Archives.
Meanwhile, to this day, the faithful and the simply curious are doing the hike to Roswell.
In recent years, current and former government officials have been more willing to bring up the subject.
Former President Barack Obama was asked about UFOs in May on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” on CBS.
“What’s true, and I’m really serious here, is that there are pictures and recordings of objects in the sky that we don’t know exactly what they are,” Obama said.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
For a week full of news from Washington, we didn’t want you to miss this story. Today, the US government released its most detailed report on what it knows and what it doesn’t know about UFOs. NPR national security correspondent Greg Myre followed this.
And, Greg, let’s start with that. UFOs are kind of part of the infrastructure bill. What’s the title there?
GREG MYRE, BYLINE: Well, no sign of little green men here, Audie. The U.S. military and intelligence community said they found nothing to support evidence of extraterrestrial life, but found more than 140 reports dating back to 2004 where investigators could not find an explanation for what ‘they call – instead of UFOs, they call them unexplained. aerial phenomena. Now, the report says the limited amount of high-quality reports hamper our ability to draw firm conclusions, which can leave people on both sides a little disappointed. This report received many contributions from the military, was released by the office of the director of national intelligence – which is part of a task force that will continue this work.
CORNISH: What kind of events are we talking about?
MYRE: Well, perhaps the most intriguing are the reports from Navy pilots, particularly in 2014 and 2015 off the east coast of the United States. At least a few of them have been filmed. The pilots said they saw objects moving with exceptional speed, agility and acceleration. And in some incidents, witnesses even claimed that these objects were underwater. So we are talking about multiple sightings over the months by experienced pilots, not some sort of one-off sighting by an amateur.
CORNISH: In the meantime, what you’re saying is that it doesn’t really explain what’s going on, but does it offer any suggestions or advice?
MYRE: A little bit – it says these UFO sightings are not part of a secret US government or military project. And another theory was, OK, maybe this is some kind of secret program coming from a rival country like Russia or China, but there’s no evidence to back it up either. There is speculation that maybe this is some kind of hypersonic technology – something the United States and others are working on. But they don’t seem to explain the story in this report. So, given all of these unresolved cases, it’s likely that this will certainly spark more discussion and maybe talk about even more resources devoted to finding answers here.
CORNISH: Why is this report coming out now?
MYRE: At the end of last year, Congress passed this big COVID relief bill, and then it was signed by Donald Trump on December 27. And buried inside was that call for this report. One of the main drivers was Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida. And that’s what we’re seeing today, it’s this preliminary report, and Congress is briefed as well. Now the main findings have been leaked to the media several weeks ago. So, as we have heard, there is nothing really conclusive that is likely to change minds. For UFO skeptics, this will likely reinforce the idea that there is no evidence here. And for UFO enthusiasts, they will probably say that there are these unexplained cases and that it requires further study.
CORNISH: There have been so many conspiracy theories, obviously. Why is this kind of – for people who are die-hard UFO enthusiasts – I mean, they claimed the US government found aliens. I mean, can you explain how we got from there to here?
MYRE: Right. I mean, I think we’ve all heard of the Roswell, NM story. And this is a case where the fake story is better known than the real one. The false story claims that in 1947 the Air Force found a spaceship and aliens in the desert and has covered it ever since. But in reality, the Air Force had these balloons at high altitude to spy on the nuclear program of the Soviet Union. One of these balloons crashed near Roswell. The Air Force cleaned it up, didn’t talk about a top secret program. It was not until 1994 that the Air Force released a detailed report. And at this point, many people just prefer to believe the flying saucer version of events, which contributes to the tourism industry that Roswell still has today.
CORNISH: This is Greg Myre from NPR.
Grégoire, thank you.
MYRE: With pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.