Recently, the Navy has stirred up some discussion with their decision to have their pilots track UFO sightings.
More specifically, they created a process for pilots to log any encounters with “unidentified aerial phenomena”, AKA UFOs.
This sparks some interesting questions, such as: why is the Navy doing this now? Is there a history of military pilots seeing UFOs? And, the ever-popular — could it be aliens?
Why is the Navy looking for UFOs?
Critics claim the military has been sticking its proverbial head in the mud for too long.
Since 2014, unidentified objects have been entering military-designated airspace in alarming numbers. As often as multiple times per month, says this article by the Washington Post.
Chris Mellon, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, rebuked military intelligence for its failure to act when the reports started, citing a lack of “curiosity and courage” as the reason.
“I don’t believe in safety through ignorance,” he said.
The pilots who’ve seen the UFOs describe them as small, spherical objects flying in formation, or vehicles that appear to be white and shaped like Tic Tacs. None of them had any noticeable air intake or exhaust.
No one has been able to catch one of these objects, as they seem to exceed the speed of current military aircraft.
Furthermore, many pilots who witness these objects – whether by the naked eye or on radar systems – don’t want to speak up for fear of skepticism or even retribution.
Though it’s seeing media popularity now, a program for Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification (AATIP) has existed since 2007; funding for it stopped in 2012.
Luis Elizondo, who ran the program, stated: “If I came to you and said, ‘There are these things that can fly over our country with impunity, defying the laws of physics, and within moments could deploy a nuclear device at will,’ that would be a matter of national security.”
UFO skepticism in the military
Not surprisingly, 2019 isn’t the first year the military has seen UFOs.
Some of the earliest recorded sightings occurred in July 1952. Referred to as “The Washington Merry-Go-Round”, this clip from the History channel talks about the event.
Happening multiple times throughout July, Washington International Airport workers and bystanders reported seeing unidentified objects whizzing over our nation’s capital. Press coverage was everywhere.
Two F-94 interceptors took off from Andrews Air Force Base to investigate. One pilot saw a group of lights, and when he flew toward them, “they appeared to be all around him.”
After a public outcry, USAF General Sanford led the largest press conference since the end of World War II. “I am here to discuss the so-called flying saucers,” he began.
Essentially, the Air Force blamed “temperature inversions”, which had caused the radar systems to malfunction and read false positives. Though senior air traffic controllers debunked it, and there had been firsthand witnesses, the UFO sightings were written off as a fluke.
Could we be seeing extraterrestrial life?
Many experts say: no.
But then again, experts said “no” in 1952, despite evidence to the contrary.
So what exactly are the UFOs we’re seeing, then? They could be:
- Sources of light that come from earth, and are being reflected in the clouds.
- Optical illusions caused by fatigue after long hours of flying.
- Drones, or new technology flying without permission into military airspace.
- Satellites, which have prompted false UFO sightings in the past.
Another explanation could be due to human imperfection, says Brian Pinkston, a former Air Force flight surgeon.
“Your eyes have some inherent movement in them, and it will make it appear as if the object is moving. You can have stars in the sky, and it will appear as if they’re moving.”
But the simple truth of the matter is that we don’t know. For how much we do know about Earth, there’s infinitely more we don’t about the galaxy around us, let alone the galaxies beyond that.
We don’t know what the UFOs are, and implementing a process of identifying them could be the beginning of us finding out.