In May of this year, the Congress held the first hearing on the subject of UFOs (now referred to as Unexplained Aerial Phenomena or UAPs) in 50 years. It was one of several events in the past few years that have people thinking more about who our extra-terrestrial neighbors might be. Today is World UFO Day, and while the term may be a bit out of date, the fascination certainly is not. What’s new in the world of UAPs? And are we any closer to connecting with extra-terrestrial life?
In April of 2020, the Pentagon released three videos of unidentified flying objects. These videos were filmed by members of the United States Navy as they practiced aerial missions above the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Then in June of 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report on UAPs, listing 144 sightings between November 2004 and March of 2021. These videos and reports have reignited an interest in UAPs, and the recent Congressional hearings only fanned the flames.
Key takeaways from the congressional hearings may disappoint viewers who were hungry for evidence of life beyond Earth. In his testimony, Ronald Moultrie, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security, was clear that UAPs are simply “airborne objects that, when encountered, cannot be immediately identified.” He went on to state that it was his belief and the belief of his department that these objects could likely be identified with more information. Put differently, UAPs are not designated as such because something about them is inherently unidentifiable or “alien”, they are just objects about which we have little data.
However, these hearings, in combination with recent videos and reports have still provided ample new material to scour and speculate about for those of us who are eager to indulge those impulses. Here are pieces of evidence that have left us with more questions than answers as to the nature of these unidentified flying objects.
Congressional Testimony on the Malstrom Airforce Base Incident
Perhaps one of the most intriguing lines of questioning to occur during the recent Congressional hearings was when Mike Gallagher, a Republican Congressman from Wisconsin inquired about a report from 1967. According to this report, a flowing red orb flew over the Airforce Base in Montana. At the same time, and without explanation, 10 nuclear missiles shut down for several hours.
Mr. Scott Bray, the Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence was quick to reply that this incident had not been investigated by the UAP Task Force. When questioned as to why an investigation had not been conducted, officials testified that such incidents needed to be reported through official channels in order to come under the purview of the task force. In a strange turn of events, a former Air Force captain, who was on duty at the Malmstrom Air Force Base when the orb was sighted and the missiles rendered inoperable, recently told the Daily Mail that officials lied in their testimony.
Robert Salas, the ex Air Force captain, claims that he did in fact report this incident to the task force. In October of 2021 he held a press conference to raise awareness about his experience. Before the event he reached out to the UAP task force and was reportedly told, “”We already know your story so unless you’ve got something new, we don’t need to hear what you’ve got to say.” It has left many wondering then what exactly Mr. Bray meant in his testimony when he said “that data is not within the holdings of the UAP task force.”
What Was Revealed in the Videos?
The videos released in 2020 were taken in 2004 and 2015, and were first leaked in 2007 and later again in 2017. This has left many viewers wondering why the Pentagon decided to officially release the videos when they did, during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. But perhaps the better question would be, “What else is the government hiding about UFOs?”
Before asking the more insidious and complex questions that these videos raise, it’s essential to become familiar with the videos themselves. Just in case you missed watching them when they were first released, here’s a brief breakdown of the clips.
The first video shows a strange, spinning top-like object slowly rotating. Far below this odd sight are miles of cloud cover. The pilot focusing on this UFO remarks that he has seen a whole fleet of similar objects, and his targeting system struggles to stay focused on the shadowy mass as it begins to twirl and spin.
The second video begins with a wide aerial shot of an indistinguishable gray expanse. However, viewers (and the pilot operating the plane) quickly notice a flash of light that seems to zoom from one side of the frame to the other, moving unbelievably fast. The pilot attempts to follow and focus on this ball of light for several seconds before finally locking onto it. He then immediately cries out in celebration before loudly wondering what it could be.
The third video is completely silent. It shows a zoomed-in view of a similar UFO to the one that appears in the second video, revealing what seems to be a spiky, halo-like glow emanating from the object.
When these videos first began circulating, they lacked official confirmation, but when the Pentagon released them in 2020 they were confirmed to be real and un-doctored. One of the most pressing questions the general public asked in response to the videos was, “Why now?” After all, the entire world had been in pandemic-crisis mode since early February of 2020, and the battle against the coronavirus was still dominating headlines. Some people have theorized that this timing is no accident, but rather was expertly calculated. During times when not much is interrupting the status quo, government-captured footage of UFOs would be huge news. But when juxtaposed against political turmoil, biological strife and economic disaster, the existence and confirmation of UFOs felt like merely a footnote in the day’s paper.
Have We Only Scratched the Surface of UAPs?
The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was a partially classified government initiative that was dissolved in 2012. Over the course of five years, the U.S. government poured $22 million into this program, but officials haven’t been too forthcoming with the results of this spending.
This program was one of several that followed and somewhat emulated Project Blue Book, the 1950s and 1960s government initiative to research UFOs, aerial phenomena and the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations. In those days, UFOs belonged to the realm of popular culture. You could easily find an extraterrestrial in the pages of a comic book or on the screen of your favorite sci-fi serial.
But the Pentagon’s recent video release and Congressional testimony are among the most exceptional and honest admissions of the existence of UAPs that the United States government has ever made. And due to the fanfare-free nature of the Pentagon’s release and its acknowledgment that the crafts pictured do not exhibit any known forms of technology, people are left wondering how much information is being withheld.
During the recent Congressional hearings, Democratic Congressman from California, Adam Schiff, asked about reports of 18 UAPs that “appear to exhibit unusual flight characteristics [and] appear to demonstrate advanced technology.” He went on to note that “some of them appear to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed without discernible means of propulsion.” Schiff asked if the Department of Defense was aware of any foreign adversaries with technologies that could explain these behaviors, specifically the ability to move without discernible means of propulsion. Mr. Bray suggested that one possible explanation was that sensor artifacts or signature management technologies were interfering with the ability to discern the means of propulsion. However, he went on to say that “there are a number of events in which we do not have an explanation…Those are the ones that are of most interest to us.”
And so, our imaginations are left to run a little bit wild. These confirmations open up a field of possibilities that would’ve seemed hyper-theoretical or even nonsensical in 2019. Once you acknowledge the existence of novel flying crafts, it’s a fast and slippery slope to wondering who, or what, is manning or operating those aircraft. Confirmations of the existence of little green men may be only a few decades down the line.
NASA has a live video stream that continues to generate unexplainable shots of mysterious flying aircraft, and people of all nationalities and backgrounds continue to report strange sightings. So maybe “The Truth” isn’t out there. Perhaps it’s already here on Earth, zipping along at a wickedly fast pace as it scales the stratosphere. The question that remains to be answered is when we’ll fully learn it.