Many Military U.F.O. Reports Are Just Foreign Spying or Airborne Trash

Oct 28, 2022 · 214 comments
William Deverell (Brooklyn)
I saw a small shining metallic looking object flying fast above the clouds and as me and my friend were watching it we saw it make a 90 degree turn instantly. So checkmate NYT and government officials!!!
Tom (California)
Don't harsh on my UFO buzz. The world is so boring....let us dream a little.
Jay (Texas)
The truth is out there.
Carlos North (Colorado)
I just find it very irrational how much money, legislation, and congresspeople’s opinions on UAP being a threat to national security for this NYT journalist to quickly debunk it as if they know any physics or data behind it. Pilots in the air have been reporting on UAPs for awhile now, with more legalization on UAPs and more task forces being created. I don’t see how this is just pure space junk.
David (ABQ)
Yes, the Calvine photo was clearly a piece of trash. The 1561 Nuremberg Incident was obviously drones flying in the sky. The fact of the matter is that until you've seen one, you have no idea what you are talking about. The one I saw was not some far off blurry object. I was looking out the window of my mom's car driving down the freeway, when a large, spinning metal disc VERY suddenly approached, almost seeming to materialize. It had oval-shaped orange lights on the bottom. It matched our speed perfectly, spinning the whole time. Then, just as suddenly, it sped off, never to be seen again. If that was some type of foreign technology, I cannot possibly comprehend why that nation has not taken over the Earth yet. Nothing humans have ever built resembles what I saw, or has the capacity to replicate what it did. I cannot in good conscience claim it "must have" been alien technology, but to blatantly lie and say these objects are "airborne trash" is blatantly disrespectful to human intelligence.
CKH (California)
UFO != aliens. The likelihood that these sightings are beings from another planet is pretty much zero.
SES (Texas)
So in other words they want us to believe that this is all just weather balloons, etc., just like they’d did in Roswell. In Roswell, the military was called out, public statements were made and then retracted, and eyewitness accounts did not fit the government narrative. The article continuously says “many” of these can be explained away, but doesn’t say much about the ones that can’t be explained away. Navy pilots are not going to make things up, they are consummate professionals and they know exactly what is normal and what is not. I don’t know if it’s ET they are seeing, but some of these things definitely need to be investigated further.
Josh Wilson (Kobe, Japan)
As much as I want to believe in aliens, we would have more than a handful of encounters and grainy footage unless the “alien observers” were remarkable adept at avoiding all forms of detection. In every other aspect our desire (to not have climate change, to be healthy while eating a poor diet, to believe obvious lies in support of our side) dictates how we see things. Don’t see why it would be different in this regard.
Jackson Chameleon (Tennessee)
Yes, I often throw my cubes in spheres into the sky when I'm done with them.
joansdottir (MI)
Just because most are explainable doesn’t mean there aren’t legit UAPs /UFOs. It wasn’t a weather balloon that hovered over a Harlem building in ‘96 and then zoomed away so fast it disappeared almost instantly. Thankfully, the two people standing next to me saw it, too. Now weather it comes from outer space, Antarctica or an ocean base is irrelevant. The technology is so beyond anything our civilization is capable of.
Modified Tele (Canada)
in my opinion to have a discussion or to write a piece on this subject, and not touch on the hypothesis that many of The unexplained phenomenon could be ourselves sending probes back in time from the future, is to admit you didn't prepare or research.
Sixofone (The Village)
Although I didn't know what these sightings were, I did know what they were NOT. The distances between stars and the laws of physics would preclude extraterrestrial beings. This phenomenon is very similar to that of "haunted" houses. I don't know what those unexplained noises or images are, but I do know they're not ghosts. Once you eliminate the impossible, you've made the job of discovering the truth easier-- if you're sincerely interested in discovering the truth, that is, rather than just re-affirming your superstitions and prejudices. And as the Amazing Randi showed us, the same applies to other paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.
Deep In The Heart (Dallas)
It all starts with Roswell and the military officers who reported a crash. Until the truth is known and Area 51 has been better explained, there will be a lack of trust. The weather balloon story after the fact feels like psyops.
ANetliner (Washington, DC)
So DoD has gotten nervous about the recent reporting on UAPs and is trotting out the cases with mundane explanations in an effort to deflect. No surprise. This time it’s Chinese drones, not swamp gas. And this time, as in decades past, the remaining inexplicable cases may still get short shrift — although I’m hoping that’s not the case.
Dick Joyce (Tucson)
I am still waiting to hear how a physical object in the atmosphere could suddenly accelerate to 'supersonic" speed and not create a shock wave/sonic boom. Basic physics.
Kent Wong (Calgary, Canada)
That’s assuming the basic law of physics cannot be broken. NASA has observed a recent black hole in space “burp out” matter which defies known knowledge and our understanding of physical laws.
greg (new york city)
Oh how an object in the sky dives straight into the ocean and how objects come out of the ocean into the sky. Oh and how about pilot accounts of objects maneuvering around them in ways they are never seen ever?
Wes Wessells (Colorado)
That’s because it didn’t accelerate to supersonic speed. Illusion. Totally unproven beyond other explanations that make more sense.
Tino Volpe (Wrentham Ma)
Enough with the UFO's. Believing in them is like believing in the the invisible man in the sky who loves everyone but will send you straight to hell if you misbehave. Any intelligent life would be so far away that even they would not be able to figure out how to travel the distance. It's a nice dream but let's leave it in the realm of science fiction. Anyone who studied the history of life on earth realizes what an incredible stroke of luck it was that humans evolved at all. If even one the the 5 mass extinctions didn't happen chances are we wouldn't be here right now. I'm sure there is plenty of life elsewhere in the universe but intelligent life that can travel to the stars? Uh I don't think so.
dmgrush1 (Vancouver WA)
@Tino Volpe Why not? At least one or two species may have been lucky like humans, and they could be a million years ahead of us. Think about where our tech was only 100 years ago. 1922. My theory is that they are robotic craft. Completely possible.
Havi (Philadelphia)
Logically you are correct. Mathematically you are wrong. Assuming the universe is infinite.
Suzanne (New Hampshire)
Why is NASA funding a study (and apparently wasting the time of a team of 16 scientists), if the existing consensus is that UAP are mainly just sensor errors and optical illusions? Many questions and issues not addressed here by this journalist.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Suzanne How do you think they're determining that these are sensor errors and optical illusions? That's what NASA helps find out.
Phil (Salinas, CA)
It's nice to see the government agree with Mr. Mick West. He analyzed the Navy's FLIR, GO Fast and Gimbal videos and showed conclusively that there is nothing extraordinary shown in any of those videos. When the explanation is "aliens", it's always time to think again, more deeply and more scientifically.
dmgrush1 (Vancouver WA)
@Phil They really didn't show anything "conclusively." Just more theories about what created the anomalies. Those theories might be correct, or not. But in this case, there were eyewitness accounts combined with instrumentation. The alien theory is still a plausible one.
@Phil mick west did NOT do anything. Our own military has not even ruled it out UAPs yet on those three incidents and they collected a lot more data on it.
The explanation was never "aliens" - it is non-US aircraft that appears to be next generation flying in our airspace, with maneuvering capability far outperforming that of known aircraft. Also MetaBunk makes a great case that FLIR1 caught a genuine anomaly on camera, coupled with the testimony of the pilot that it was a pill shaped aircraft with no discernible means of propulsion.
Mr. Little (NYC)
With great respect, this article is pure debunking on the part of a section of the military that opposes release of the truth. The truth is no longer debatable to anyone who has closely examined the information. The truth is this: something that is highly intelligent and vastly more advanced that than any known human civilization, is here, with us, on this planet. It engages us in a variety of ways, components of which involve highly advanced technology. We are no longer alone. Governments CANNOT admit this, because it means they lose the basis on which they ground their authority: the ability to insure control of their territory. The government and military is COMPLETELY POWERLESS against this presence. This is clearly shown by many incidents at our most sensitive nuclear facilities. Look up Col. Robert Sala, just for starters. “Aliens from other planets” would be among the most prosaic and unlikely explanations for the Phenomenon. It is probably something much stranger, and much more elusive of any understanding our rational, materialistic science can grasp. The people who are trying to suppress this information are desperate to hold onto an anthropocentric paradigm of power on earth. But the fact is, human beings are no longer pre-eminent on this planet. It is terrifying, but I assure you, it is true. This article is an attempt to keep hold of a worldview which has been outdated for decades.
SteveRR (CA)
@Mr. Little See the comment below about cats chasing laser pointers.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Mr. Little Wouldn't it be neat if you really were just so important and clever that you figured out the Big Secret that They have been trying to hide from the world?!
Matt Moran (Brooklyn, NY)
Once you cover this topic with the phrase “giant Tic Tac” (May 2019) you really need to keep us updated on that angle.
Vladimir (Omaha)
No mention of the TR3B that's flying everywhere and sighted everywhere.
Frank Grober (Oakland, California)
If an alien civilization could study the Earth and the human race they without giving us any signs that it was going on. Think of all the information they could get just from our television and radio signals without coming anywhere near Earth or with a few really inconspicuous electronic listening posts for frequencies that do not make it past the ionosphere. If they wanted to study things up close any civilization that traveled between the stars they would almost certainly have stealth technology far beyond what we have and could do a great deal by disguising their probes as regular aircraft or birds . If a significant number of UFOs are alien spacecraft and they were not bothering to stay hidden why wouldn't they occasionally do something like hovering over a stadium full of fans watching a big football game where it would be very clear that some UFOs were really alien craft? If thousands of them have been observed in recent years I wonder why they never crash or break down and need to call Galactic Triple A Two alternate hypotheses are that they are gradually introducing the human race to the fact that we are not alone or there is my personal favorite used in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy that they are bored teenagers who are having a little by putting on shows for low credibility people who will then be judged crazy. Attempts to evaluate sign of visits by extraterrestrials should bear those arguments in mind/
rob (out west)
If an alien civilization was studying Earth and gleaning information from our television and radio transmissions, is it any wonder they've chosen not to make contact?
dmgrush1 (Vancouver WA)
@Frank Grober Yes. They're not hiding, so getting us used to them seems to be the only explanation. I also wonder if some have in fact crashed. Someone said that even super advanced civilizations must be subject to Murphy's Law. I guess this makes sense.
ANetliner (Washington, DC)
There have been multiple, well-investigated UFO crashes and landings. Several are documented in Jacques Vallee’s 2021 book, Trinity.
NorthernVirginia (Falls Church, VA)
Don't tell my neighbor's cat there's no such thing as a UFO. It chases a flashlight spot on the ground and suddenly, in an instant, the spot goes up the wall and on to the ceiling! No known technology could enable a spot to do that! The cat knows: we are not alone.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@NorthernVirginia Exactly so. Such a change of direction at such acceleration! Pfft.
Josh (Germany)
The description of the 'third video' from 2004 is wrong. It doesn't show an object that "appears to hover over the water, jump erratically, then peel away." Maybe the article is mixing up the video with the previous event, the visual encounter of Cmdr. Fravor's squad, over an hour before. The object in the video moves at altitude, with near uniform speed. The sideway "jumps" are caused by the camera losing target lock several times briefly and in the end for good.
Reported by Armed Forces pilots? You know many of them are on Adderall or other drugs. Not all, but many.
c (Pennsyltucky)
This article really brings out a strange element of commenters.
Mcswell (Maryland)
@c I'm not saying those commenters are aliens, but they're aliens.
Me (New York)
The Next Upcoming UAP Report, will say MOST UAP sightings, are just FOREIGN SPYING or just AIR BORNE TRASH ???? NOTHING has CHANGED ! They are Still just LYING to us ! They will just Continue to say that EVERYTHING is just Drones or Foreign Adversary. They are Still LYING to the Public !
Phil (Salinas, CA)
It's about time the NYTimes ran an articles that corrected the nonsense and misinformation it wrote about in prior UFO articles that spawned worldwide excitement and attention. It's NOT aliens. See Mick West's youtube channel for the most in-depth scientific explanations. Mr. West beautifully explains the most famous Navy video incidents ("Gimbal", "FLIR", and "Go Fast"), as well as many other incidents.
Dawn (Florida)
@Phil Mick West is a video game programmer and is not qualified to contradict the experiences of the professionals that actually witnessed the events.
Michael (NYC)
Mock West is biased. He was traumatized by the thought of ETI and visitation and has devoted himself to his sham scientific debunking mission. Look us Chris Lehto on YouTube. An actual retired fighter pilot instructor who can explain the math and what the sensors are reading.
Richard (Montana)
Congratulations, N.Y. Times. You followed a ludicrous story about ghostly experiences with on involving science and reason.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
Another waste of money. I pity the fools who accepted this committee assignment. True believers won’t buy any earthly explanations, and no government is going to produce a report that would cause panic or reveal advanced technology. If there are alien civilizations (likely), they would never get here. Most people have no clue how vast space is. And the laws of physics are firm. There is no faster than light travel and no time travel. All the hopefuls denying these facts are just highly suggestible personalities.
Me (New York)
I thought UAP Hearing said, they were supposed to be looking at the Sightings that could NOT be Explained ???? Seems like they are just going to Continue to try and HIDE the TRUTH about the UFO Phenomon from the Public !
Steve (Indiana)
Don't worry for a second if a UFO flying is a warlike invader. They must be peaceful--or else the race of beings would never last long enough to develop their world to the point where they could leave their planet. Giant weapons were the first use of nuclear power on earth.
Josh (Germany)
Which of the known videos shows "where an object hovers over the water, jumps erratically, then peels away"? The article has just been changed there; the previous version referred to the 2004 "FLIR1" video - which certainly doesn't match that description. So which other video is referred to here?
Mike Turber (USAF Plant 42)
@Josh the FLIR1 video is of an F18 at a distance. The object jumping around as described but not on video is a reference to the TicTac so called UAP which is actually a tethered ISR balloon just before release. After release it meandered skyward and pilot Fravor may have made it burst when he cut the circle to get closer which made it seem to disappear.
@Mike Turber actually no, the physics don't add up to support the claim FLIR1 captured an F18 at a distance
Foreign Spying or Airborne Trash is the New Weather Balloon.
AP (Washington, DC)
Instead of relying on unnamed "American officials," Barnes should have quoted lawmakers who have received numerous briefings on UAP from the DOD and intelligence agencies, including closed-door meetings with military pilots and physicists who, on specific cases, have ruled out prosaic explanations in these specific cases. Several of these lawmakers have been outspoken (apparently based on testimony and evidence they've been shown in these meetings, including Sen. Gillabrand and Sen. Rubio and indeed, former senator and now NASA commissioner, Bill Nelson). Quite telling that the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence wrote in their explanatory report for the 2023 Intelligence Authorization Act: "temporary nonattributed objects, or those that are positively identified as man-made after analysis, will be passed to appropriate offices and should not be considered under the definition as unidentified aerospace-undersea phenomena." In other words, Congress is requiring the new UAP Office to investigate only unknown phenomena not attributed to a state (or non-state) actor, rather than human-made craft. The only source named in Barnes's article, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, authored a paper, "The evolution of strategic influence," as part of a U.S. Army War College Strategy Research Project, which examines the evolution of "psychological warfare" and the "strategic influence as an instrument of national power" to meet the 21st century's "asymmetric threats." Yikes.
Carl N. (Los Angeles, CA)
Of all the billions of dollars in their budget spending on high tech hardware-software, our US military (Pentagon) can only produce was a non-HD video.
Evan (Lake Tahoe)
This article is nothing new and it sounds like a rehashed press release from every other decade since the UFO phenomenon captured the public's imagination. In a nutshell, the national security apparatus isn't going to reveal what it knows and what it doesn't. That's understandable. While it's safe to say that the majority of UAP reports can be explained in terms we are familiar with, there remains a core of well documented cases with credible witnesses that can't be marginalized with flippant, out-of-the-box interpretations.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Evan No. There doesn't. There have been no credible accounts of aliens visiting Earth. If the accounts were credible, they'd be backed up by evidence.
Mark A (ABQ)
For those interested, I recommend Richard Dolan's two-volume "UFOs and the national security state." This is a deeply researched, methodical review of UFO incidents and the response of the U.S. and other governments.
Marshall (Virginia)
"Unidentified" doesn't have to mean, "We have no idea what it is." To me, it's more likely that "unidentified" means, "We haven't publicly said what it is." It's unidentified because the government hasn't disclosed what they know.
Rob Wilson (Norcal)
If they are smart enough to design, build and fly these amazing things, they are smart enough not to land here.
Tom (San Diego, California)
Too bad we need articles like this because people don’t know how to think critically and that there’s no evidence for alien visitors.
Justin (Florida)
@Tom Incorrect. There's no publicly accessible conclusive evidence for alien visitors. What's funny is the opposite of what you said is true, there's no evidence that aliens haven't visited.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Justin There's no evidence that an invisible unicorn isn't standing behind you right now. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
MAChap (Boston)
@Justin China teacup fallacy. There is no need to ask for evidence of a negative. There burden of proof always falls on the "positive" claim.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
I just wish these entities would tell us what they want, what they are looking for, what their end game is here. Clearly they are tons smarter than we are solely based on their travel treds and their speed of travel. So just send some kind of message and tell us what they want. I certainly would feel less anxious and unsettled if I knew what it was they wanted.
Phil (Salinas, CA)
@Marge Keller Much more likely it's because balloons can't speak.
Dan (Bar)
@Marge Keller just browsing. A visit to the zoo.
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Dan Oh my gosh, I LOVE your comment.
redhummingbird (NJ)
And you know this how? NASA and U.S.Govt haven't even come to this conclusion yet.
Ann Onymous (The Untied Status of America)
Any intelligent extraterrestrial species would surely not visit our crazy little planet!
Joe (Boston)
Alien visitation to this planet is obvious. We have known about it since at least the "Foo-fighter" sightings over Europe during WWII. And far more sightings since then from credible people, especially military pilots. The NYT even broke ground with the release of naval footage. UFO's are no longer fringe and conspiracy. They are here. Our government knows it. But our government is scared about releasing the information too quickly given the chaos demonstrated by HG Wells War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Joe Ah yes, the visitations are so obvious! That's why only people who have never taken an astronomy course have been taking blurry pictures of things they don't understand.
Joe (Boston)
@Rapscallion Please. The abundant evidence: credible eyewitnesses, radar signatures, camera footage, wreckage, abductions, channelling.... The universe is extremely large. There is intelligent life out there. The only question is how does it travel here.
Mcswell (Maryland)
@Rapscallion Not to mention how much better (not to mention ubiquitous) cameras are now than they were in WWII, and we still don't have any non-blurry pictures of these aliens or their craft.
JS (Seattle)
What I saw with my parents in rural NH in October, 1966, was not airborne trash, nor was it foreign intelligence equipment, I'm pretty certain. There were two, silent objects high in the night sky, like the brightest stars, moving slowly in random patterns, changing color from green to red to yellow and orange, until one of the objects emitted an arc of light at the second object, which then disappeared. The remaining object continued its random wandering until it went below the tree line. Have never forgotten that night! There is something out there, believe me.
Rapscallion (DC)
@JS Your inability to identify what you saw doesn't mean it was aliens. I see plenty of things I can't identify in the night sky. And how on earth would you have the expertise required to say that you weren't watching trash, or a weather balloon, or a regular old passenger plane?
Christine (Arlington, MA)
Yes. Once you have witnessed it, there is only doubt about why it can't be taken seriously. What do they want? Maybe they are studying us like Margaret Mead studied so-called primative societies, or how scientists study primate societies. I bet the chimpanzees wondered what Jane Goodall wanted when she studied them.
David (Florida)
@JS I was with friends in suburban NY as a teenager and we were around a fire in a forested area when we saw something unlike anything before or after. There was a bright blue spherical light that just appeared to be floating not too far above the tops of trees and it was at or just beyond the edge of the clearing we were in. The blue light started sort of pulsing and getting bigger and and smaller repeatedly a few times. Then it seemed to jump up a bit higher and swell up and then sort of explode with a bright flash but there was absolutely no sound at all from it. There did seem to be some wisps of gas or vapor when it disintegrated or disappeared. We had all seen it but no one had said anything while it was happening. We instantly turned to each other and were somewhat shocked to see we had all seen it. Where we were was on a wooded group of islands in a large wooded park in later June. The light was directly south from our position and we would either have seen and heard any other people from that direction if it was close enough to be over land but if a bit farther back it would have been over the lake. This was the late 1990's and there were no drones capable of flying like what we saw at the time especially without making noise. It floated at the same altitude much too long to be a firework and was not sparking or burning or making noise or smoke or smell. I don't think it was aliens, but by definition would be a UFO. Ball lightning is my best guess.
bill s. (minnesota)
The earlier report from the government said they were not technology from other countries and they were moving at abnormally high rates of speed. Now apparently they aren't. That contradiction is not addressed by Mr. Barnes, nor is there any contrasting viewpoint from anyone but government officials who have been known to be dishonest about this topic in the past. (See: Project Bluebook for a prominent example) This is essentially a one sided piece of government propaganda that doesn't even account for what the government just said about this less than a year ago. You can rest assured if they did find anything that suggested ET technology that it would be "classified" and "unexplained", they all but say that in the article.
Gary (New Mexico)
A look at the long history of UFOs reveals a rather odd pattern. In the 1890s a spate of sightings reported objects that looked like dirigibles; one even tossed an anchor overboard that caught on a chimney. During World War II foo fighters paced pursuit planes, then zoomed away. Today they outmaneuver advanced jets and pull turns with such G-force that a human would black out. In any given time, UFOs display characteristics that put them somewhat ahead of the then-existing human technology. If they are extraterrestrial devices, they are just beyond our own cutting edge—which is just impossible if they are coming from tens or hundreds of light-years away. The obvious inference is they aren’t alien technology, even if a explanation remains elusive. But belief in UFOs is pretty much harmless, unlike other crazy ideas that swirl around America today.
James (MacPherson)
@Gary This is something that causes me to remain skeptical. It is possible that people describe what is in their capacity to comprehend to a degree however.. but that we have moved on from metallic disks possibly with windows to eerie drone like tic tacs is notable.. There are other things like balls of light and the ever present black triangles as well (that later being possibly misidentified U.S. tech, although allegedly there is a photo of one in the current UAP files to match a Navy pilot’s story that he saw it rise up out of the ocean.. we will see if that ever materializes).
Joe (CA)
@Gary I can't quite agree with your last paragraph. This is just part of the fabric of the range of crazy ideas. One hallmark it has in common with most dangerous ideas that nibble at society is the shared level of distrust of the government.
Dan (Bar)
@Gary that old idea of them having to travel the whole universe to get instead is just based on the laws of physics and understanding of the universe we as humans have. They could get here by other means and we wouldn’t know.
Joe (CA)
"... transforming them into glowing triangles that look like alien spacecraft." I have massive problems understanding how most people seem to think. How can we say something looks like an alien space ship when we have absolutely no idea what such a thing would actually look like? In many of the videos referred to here the 'objects' (in many cases we don't even know it they are objects or just optical illusions) don't even look like something from a sci-fi movie.
R.L. (Long Beach)
I wonder if the author remembers that Eisenhower had to threaten send the 1st army into Nevada, when Lockheed and the air force were stonewalling his requests for info into classified programs. Or the sightings of a fleet of UFOs over Mt. Shasta kicking off the modern UFO era. Or the phoenix lights. Or the Ruwa incident witnessed by dozens of Zimbabwean schoolchildren. I could rattle off more incidents, but I’m not buying that this is all misidentified drones, balloons, birds, and sensor anomalies.
Frank Grober (Oakland, California)
@R.L. Can you provide us a source for your claim ""I wonder if the author remembers that Eisenhower had to threaten to send the 1st army into Nevada, and and the air force were stonewalling his requests for info into classified programs.?" As president Eisenhower could have replaced any military officer who he thought was deliberately not cooperating with one he trusted not to mention how refusing such a direct order could have led to a court martial. Lockheed would have been exceedingly careful about suspension of government payments. By that time what I read about the 1sr army was an organization for mobilizing forces in wartime and not an actual war fighting organization. When Arkansas Governor Faubus defied court decisions on school immigration Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division which was actually able to send soldiers to Little Rock. In the unlikely event that Eisenhower needed to use force to get people to do something other the FBI or a regiment of the army would have been more than sufficient.
James (MacPherson)
@R.L. I mean some other the accounts from U.S. Navy pilots are very credible sounding as well. There are detailed accounts of witnessing these things numerous times over a span of time.
Rapscallion (DC)
@R.L. I wonder if you remember that you're describing a complete fiction.
Mischa (Switzerland)
In my opinion there has been a government cover-up since Roswell. And it has all been about protecting the religious beliefs of evangelicals in the US. Period.
James (MacPherson)
@Mischa I mean I have heard it suggested that the religious conservatism of military and intelligence staff may have played a role in the decision to suppress this information in prior decades (50s, 60s), if indeed something like this happened happened. Now a days I do wonder what the public would even do with that information. You can’t get people to trust in vaccines or in the basic electoral process; half the people wouldn’t even believe it’s true .. I am nearly certain. Add to that how the revelation that the government has been lying for years about something of such importance — or that there are groups within the government operating so far out of democratic oversight as to keep this secret from lawmakers. It could easily crush any remaining faith in government. Also the credibility of the scientific community would take a big hit for so many years of missing the obvious and a degree of undue skepticism; it would open the door for people to embrace whatever nonsense they wanted even more than they already do ..
Mcswell (Maryland)
@Mischa You've seen the term "LOL"? When I read your post, I actually did laugh out loud. I have no idea what a putative government cover-up (of aliens, presumably) would do for evangelicals, nor why the government would worry about that even if it were a problem. And BTW, have you read the Narnia stories, or the Out of the Silent Planet trilogy? They are stories about alien worlds from a Christian perspective.
Mark McIntyre (Los Angeles)
Those are IFOs, identified flying objects and this is not the first study of UFOs. Project Sign, Project Grudge, The Robertson Panel, Project Bluebook and more all studied the phenomenon. Project Bluebook studied 12,618 UFO reports, many by multiple witnesses. They came to the same conclusion 'most' sightings can be explained prosaically. But 701 cases remain unexplained to this day. Footnote: If the planet Venus happened to be in the sky at the time, that became the official explanation. And don't forget swamp gas! Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the head of Proj. Bluebook later admitted it was mostly a debunking operation and they still couldn't explain 5% of the cases.
Bill McGrath (Chimacum, WA)
It is a logical fallacy to conflate "unidentified" with "alien." Unidentified is just that: unidentified. It makes no sense to believe that everything that doesn't have a simple explanation is therefore otherworldly or conspiratorial. It's not magic just because you can't explain it. It's called an argument from ignorance - something that is apparently in abundant supply.
Paul E. Vondra (Bellevue PA)
Why must UFOs, er UAPs, automatically be interstellar alien space ships if they are not mundane, conventional misidentifications? They have been seen in such enormous numbers for so very long that it is hard to imagine that our "pale blue dot" were worth that amount of time and effort by a civilization so advanced it had learned how to circumvent Relativity and travel unimaginably vast interstellar distances in great numbers. I would like to submit as a contentious speculation that they are terrestrial post-human time travelers from a (10,000-yr.?)(100,000-yr?) future Earth. They may be either tourists or scholars or a mixture of both. The development of time travel is no more or less likely than that of interstellar travel, since both would be based on principles unknown to today's science. And by definition, if time travel is developed on a post-human Earth even a million years from now, it exists today. Post-human terrestrial time travels would also explain the hominid appearance of the "aliens" as described by witnesses for decades (given how unimaginably unlikely that the quirks and twists of evolution on an alien planet over millions if not billions of years could have produced something so similar to us) and their famous reluctance to engage with humans in any meaningful or historical way.
JoeG (Houston)
Or plain made up... It might be common sense that life even advanced civilizations exists on other planets in other solar systems. It's not science to say there is. Science fiction maybe. There was a recording made by a psychiatrist of one of his patients. The patient was brilliant explaining the world in it's physical and spiritual terms. I considered myself enlightened except when he started calling himself God. I was already under his spell and I wanted to believe but after a few seconds I caught myself. He wasn't God. You see this a lot with politicians. You hear them speak and you say at least for now I agree with him 100%. Then he says what he really means and usually it's twisted. Durban did this speaking about free speech. I was with him a hundred percent. Then he talked about misinformation. He's not for free speech. A defect in a radar screen can be a sign of UFO to some. Then they come back and say maybe it wasn't a defect. Then as time and words go by it becomes Lizard People from the 5th Dimension and what exactly the Gray People and Big Foot up to. If you want to believe be aware of the tactic of dazzling you with the truth at first prepping you to tell a even more dazzling lie.
fatedtogethernessineternity (SF, CA)
So depressing. I was hoping aliens would save us from ourselves.
James (MacPherson)
If you distil this, the message is the following: pilots of the U.S. Navy and other forces caused a political stir over UAP because they saw drones, space debris, and balloons, and then looked at their instruments, which malfunctioned, furthering the impression that a mundane event was something more extraordinary. It’s going to be enough for skeptics for whom the premise any “extraordinary” occurred is obviously unlikely, and any other explanation will do. However, it is likely correct that attempts at debunking such as this, in a publication of record such as the NY Times, will fuel conspiracies on the part of people who will hear a 21 century version of the“swamp gas” explanation. Keep in mind that there is more to this iteration than a few curious videos. You have extremely credible sounding armed forces personal saying they observed these objects, and their unusual properties, for days on through weeks in some cases (plenty of time to intercept a party balloon in one’s F-16). You have military and intelligence officials telling politicians in private that there are more startling photos and videos as yet not revealed, as well as other aspects including even recovered “alien material”, and that they are not allowed to release this information. If there are no “other worldly crafts” involved, we at least have a fascinating case of military and government dis-function to explore — beyond a few camera artifacts and malfunctions, and party balloons.
Guy (Snohomish Co., WA)
A prime example of why Homo sapiens is differentiated from all other animals (probably including our closest hominid predecessors): our pervasive ability for irrational beliefs and behaviors. From the superstitious rituals of sports stars, to the depreciated value of houses where murders were committed, to the adoration of Elvis, we show a penchant for contriving and in fact embracing the supernatural. But there are real advantages to this hardwired neurological phenomenon. ‘Inquiring minds’ is what the National Enquirer exploits for a long-standing successful business model, and the military can use as the perfect mask for their classified activities. Shrewd politicians can easily contrive and instill in the populace the notion that the election was rigged. We all relish the wonderment when fictitious FBI Agents Mulder and Scully exclaim that ‘the truth is out there.’ Yuval Noah Harari explains it quite well as “The human ability to create fiction, on the one hand, is responsible for all our amazing achievements as a species, but also for so much of the harm that we have done to ourselves.”
David (Florida)
@Guy I fail to see how "adoring Elvis" is an irrational belief or behavior.
Guy (Third Rock)
@David to the point where he is reportedly 'seen' more recently pumping gas at a station in Kalamazoo, Michigan!
John (Switzerland, actually USA.)
Just saying "classified" and the "military officials decline to say ..." gives legitimacy to this UFO business. "Optics" was mentioned several times in this article and, indeed, optical reflections, refractions, diffractions, absorptions and emissions for surfaces all over the place (on the water, inside the cameras, ...) is a likely (probably overwhelmingly probable) explanation for all of this. The aluminum foil wrapped cotton dolls on display in Roswell, NM, are not convincing, to say the least.
Scott (Maui)
If aliens were sophisticated enough to travel the great distances necessary to get here, I am sure they are sophisticated enough to not be seen. My money is on foreign spy craft.
A lot of the sighting, videos, and other Navy telemetries are not what they first seemed to be to somebody. Well duh. That's incredibly uninteresting. It is only the data that can't be explained, and there is a mountain of that from just the Nimitz incident, that is worthy of consideration. And that is exactly what the writer of this exercise in deflection ignores completely.
andrew y (oregon)
Either it's ETs or some power(s) on Earth have gravity control. Telling us it's neither just doesn't fly, imo.
D (B)
Who knew there were so many weather balloons?
Josh (Germany)
@D , if you go to the UWyoming website that shows radiosonde soundings from stations world-wide, usually at least twice a day, then you'll see that it adds up to a large number.
Christopher (PA)
More disinformation. Why anyone would believe what the government says about UAPs is beyond me. Their track record of lies says it all.
The Grey (NYC)
This UAP/UFO phenomenon casually emerged on the public's radar around after 2016 and went full force in 2017 after the infamous NYT piece and embraced by viewers of Fox News. It's another lure for those viewers to sway votes in favor of conservative (read: fringe) candidates and nothing more. One of the pilots, Graves, worked in the White House in 2017 and many of the key players in it save for the late Harry Reid are known conservatives and are playing the "nonpartisan" act really well. There is nothing more to see on this topic. If the claims were true, the high-res photos and video would've been leaked to the public by those key players long ago. Five years into the "disclosure" project and there's absolutely nothing to show for it but for a few grainy low-res flight cam/radar footage and one iPhone pic from the pilot.
Jeff P (Danville)
If there were aliens capable of interstellar travel, they would have quickly concluded there is no intelligent life on Earth and moved on.
CynicalObserver (Rochester)
The fanatical belief in visits by extraterrestrials is based in part on the faulty assumption that, even if it were possible, this planet is an interesting place to visit, and that we're an interesting species to observe. It isn't, and we're not, so get over it already.
Chad Uselman (Black Hills)
@CynicalObserver Like countries looking for oil, alien species may have other needs for various resources on our planet. Some of which may be more difficult to find across the cosmos. So yes, it would make us an interesting place and species. All you have to do is look at human activity on earth and realize it's highly likely similar activity would occur with those that can travel the cosmos. If humans ever start to go the stars to live, we would be looking for resources for survival on other planets and even asteroids, that aliens would be looking for their own survival too. In fact, we are already looking for such things for human survival on other planets in the solar system. It would be naive, ignorant, and arrogant to believe nothing on Earth would appeal to another alien species.
@Chad Uselman Especially considering life-producing planets are extremely far and few between, and of those how many have technological civilizations? Of course Earth would be an interesting place to visit.
MAChap (Boston)
@Chad Uselman I disagree. It's another example of human centrism. We are not the center of the universe or even galaxy. Water is more plentiful on comets, minerals are more plentiful on asteroids. There really isn't anything universally special about Earth except to those who evolved here. Once interstellar travel is possible, living permanently in space is too.
Wally (Walla walla)
Talking about UFO's is big business for cable TV. There are lots of shows that drag on for dozens of episodes pretending to investigate strange phenomenon. There is a cult that follows these shows and they are believers. No amount of evidence will convince these nice folks that there are no UFO's. Saying that there are no UFO's is not the same as saying that life does not exist elsewhere in the universe. The Universe is about 14 billion years old. Earth has been around for about 4.5 billion years and humans as we exist now have been around for about 250,000 years. And most of our recorded history is less than 10,000 years old. It is very likely that some other life form will eventually find its way to Earth but if it were to take a billion years for them to stumble upon us they might not find any evidence that we existed. In short what are the odds that our society might exist in a billion years. We might not exist in 250,000 years.
Richard (Montana)
@Wally One of my primary sources on the subject of alien visitation is James McGaha. He did the math, just as you did.
RG (Massachusetts)
To believe we’ve been “visited” reveals total disregard for the unimaginable size of the universe, known and unknown. To think that out of all the places in the cosmos, our infinitesimally small and undistinguished speck, a tiny grain of sand, would attract the attention of, and willpower to visit, by an unimaginably advanced civilization, displays the size of the human ego.
Chad Uselman (Black Hills)
@RG And to believe we are alone, goes against science. A species that has survived for billions of years...even millions of years...would likely have means we can not comprehend to travel. Humans are about 1 second on the clock when other species may be a full minute or more. Look at humans now and what we have achieved in such a short time. Alien species that have lived significantly longer very well would be so far ahead of us in knowledge and travel, we cannot comprehend it. I mean, 100 years ago there were no TVs, internet, space travel, or modern medicine. Cars were just becoming a thing. Many still had to use porta potties and boil hot water to bathe. In another 100 years imagine where we will be. Alien species that have been around and evolved for millions of years have millions of years worth of knowledge on us. Just because you can't wrap your head around a basic thing, doesn't mean an alien species shares your limited knowledge problem.
PNUT (The Dirty South)
Imagine the ego that it takes to believe that it was all created just for us .
@RG To believe that we haven't been visited evinces the unimaginably smallness of your mind. You have no clue who or if we have been visited by another sentient race and the fact that the universe is a very large place is of no import except to displace that your predilection for logical fallacies. Why would you presume to know how other completely unknow beings, if they exist, experience and move in time and space the way you do it.
Chris (Cincinnati)
Officials testified publicly that the green triangles were actually drones, with a trick of the camera lens and night vision technology transforming them into glowing triangles that look like alien spacecraft. I love that line, "glowing triangles that look like alien spacecraft". If we've never experienced, or seen alien spacecraft, how would we know what they look like?
@Chris And your explanation of the Nimitz incident where dozens of witnesses saw, recorded visually, measured thermally, recorded on the most advanced radar in the world, act in ways beyond anything current physics can even comprehend, much less produce? If some earthly enemy has the technology to do what was recorded by the Nimitz battle group, we may as well scuttle them with the rest of the military because we zero in the way of defense from whoever they may be.
Mark A (ABQ)
@LC Yep yep. There's no attempt here to even touch on the Nimitz incident. Because there's no explanation.
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
Those who believe in UFOs won't change their opinion based on any explanations from the government. UFO enthusiasts believe what they believe. Saying the sightings are space junk or foreign surveillance is useless. For decades, folks have believed that the government is lying about UFOs or covering up evidence of them. A new report won't change that. It's best to just let them go on believing whatever they want. Many people don't want to know the truth and won't accept it in spite of mountains of evidence proving otherwise.
JoeG (Houston)
@Ms. Pea You know I've been seeing movies, tv shows and reading stories about time travel since I was a kid. Is it possible? Does the past and future exist in the present. One has happened and the other hasn't. It might be true that they do exist in the resent but it never occurred to me they didn't. Maybe it just never occurs to them UFO's don't exist because that was all they were told.
Guy (Third Rock)
A prime example of why Homo sapiens is differentiated from all other animals (probably including our closest hominid predecessors): our pervasive ability for irrational beliefs and behaviors. We show a penchant for contriving and in fact embracing the supernatural. But there are real applications to this hardwired neurological phenomenon. ‘Inquiring minds’ is what the National Enquirer exploits for a long-standing successful business model, and the military can use as the perfect mask for their classified activities. Shrewd politicians can easily contrive and instill in the populace the notion that the election was rigged. We all relished the wonderment when fictitious FBI Agents Mulder and Scully exclaimed that ‘the truth is out there.’ Yuval Noah Harari explains it quite well as “The human ability to create fiction, on the one hand, is responsible for all our amazing achievements as a species, but also for so much of the harm that we have done to ourselves.”
Matthew Ratzloff (New York, NY)
@Raymond: First, night photography of moving objects is difficult even with expensive, purpose-built equipment. Point your cheap smart phone camera with digital zoom at a distant, moving object in the sky and try to capture anything other than a grainy video. You won't be able to. A smart phone camera can't even capture nearby scenes at night without a flash, and it's not like your flash can illuminate the night sky. Next, no one denies that the majority of unexplained aerial phenomena is eventually determined to be manmade or natural. The interesting stuff is what can't be explained despite best efforts by qualified investigators. Finally, you're ignoring reports with corroborating evidence from trained observers on the ground and in the air and automated systems including radar. 60 Minutes had an excellent segment in May 2021 with several Naval observers. Consider seeking it out.
Bobotheclown (Pa)
The real mystery here is why the military is saying that these sightings are "unidentified"? The videos in question were taken in the early 2000's and released to the media in 2017. They immediately ramped up the viral crazy talk about UFO's that had largely become passe. What also happen back in 2017 is that experts (not in the military) who designed the imaging equipment that these pilots were using, examined the videos and explained each one. Embarrassingly, all of them were a combination of the equipment both being used wrong and the pilot's loss of situational awareness producing extremely wrong conclusions about what they were seeing. These were some of our most highly trained pilots and they didn't understand how their own equipment worked. Suffice it to say that the sightings were all standard slow moving commercial objects that were imaged through equipment that was set wrong. Rather than admit to incompetence the military is now setting up investigations of "phenomena" that might be scary, anything but admit that their pilots are a little untrained. This is where the "fog of war" comes from, soldiers who make mistakes.
@Bobotheclown You have absolutely no idea of the evidence at hand. Go see what was recorded by the Nimitz battle and explain the events in prosaic terms. You will be the first to do so.
MAChap (Boston)
@LC No aliens for the Nimitz incident either. In a 2021 interview with 60 Minutes, Dietrich and Fravor opened up about their flight to investigate the strange object, making it clear they didn’t subscribe to conspiracies or wear tinfoil hats. Neither pilot attributed the strange objects to “little green men or extraterrestrials.”
RB (Boston, Mass.)
Harvard Professor Avi Loeb is a proponent of the theory of life beyond our planet. His book Extraterrestrials is very compelling. Read it!
Michael McBrearty (New York, NY)
The discovery of an extra terrestrial intelligence superior to our own species would be the greatest blow to human vanity since Copernicus showing we are not the center of the universe or Darwin's positing a common ancestor for apes and humans. Psychologically many persons cannot and never will accept this. Nevertheless with 100 billion stars, many with multiple planets, in our galaxy, the idea that are little planet, alone, has been the sole and only one to develop life, intelligence, civilization and space travel is not logical but an expression of fear and ignorance.
Rapscallion (DC)
Shocking. Next you'll tell us that ghosts aren't real! The uproar over these images is one of the most depressing things I've witnessed in recent memory. You'd think that after thousands of years of human development, we'd be a little smarter...
Sid Airfoil (Durham, NC)
With 10s of thousands of these incidents documented you'd think that just one of them would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that we being visited by aliens. Instead, not a sing one hits the nail on the head. To me, this is the best proof that we are NOT being visited by aliens. Believers make a fundamental epistemological mistake. They think that the lack of a specific explanation for these events proves that their arbitrary "explanation" must be the right one. This is, of course, nonsense. They are the ones making the positive claim...that aliens are visiting the burden of proof is on them. It is not the responsibility of anyone else to prove that their arbitrary claim is wrong. This is common sense that is less common than it should be. Evidence comes first and conclusions follow the evidence. If you believe in aliens...or that Trump won in 2020...PROVE IT. Until then, I don't need to argue with you. Sid
@Sid Airfoil We'll just forget about the mass sighting/visitation at the Ariel school in Ruwa, Zimbabwe in 1994. Aliens could land on the White House lawn and folks would still dismiss it.
@GJ There are hundreds, thousands, more? Eyewitness accounts of various shaped flying vehicles, sometimes with occupants, sometimes not. Eyewitness testimony is data. The reality that it is difficult or impossible to capture physical evidence suggests either 1) humans are having global mass hallucinations throughout recorded history or 2) whatever "it" is it is capable of remaining out of human reach
MAChap (Boston)
@TMC Yes mass hallucinations are a real thing. Human beings are notoriously subject to following a shared narrative. It can and does literally rewrite memory.
Dave (Illinois)
I do know this: Certain people get very upset at the possibility that the natural order of things isn't what they thought. When you say that there might be some other life form in this vast universe that figured out how to construct machines that defy gravity, wind resistance, and other variables, what they hear is that humanity might not be destined to rule everything.
MAChap (Boston)
@Dave In this case. It's not about denying the existence of aliens. Rather having a standard of proof beyond the very weak evidence presented. Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence. Not weak evidence that Occam's Razor can show hundreds of more plausible explanations.
Garloo (CA)
Perhaps quantum entanglement provides the explanation. An alien might be flying a kite in another dimension and we are simply privy to the entangled particles. It could be spooky action at a distance but I’m more inclined to believe it’s something more mundane.
@Garloo A key point there is that so many assume that an alien intelligence must come from another star system using technology humans can imagine, limiting their ability to travel across space. These things could be traveling here faster than the speed of light using unknown methods, or perhaps they exist in a parallel universe directly on top of our own and have found a way to come and go into our universe at will. Or, perhaps they've been here all along and are very good at evading us.
Dawn (Florida)
In the past, the claim has been that the unexplained sightings and reports made by the navy were not a foreign government or own government. So now, in this article, the story suddenly changed. Why? Why are these anonymous "officials" now claiming that there are Chinese drones spying on us. If they wanted this to be a secret, why release this information now and why release it through this channel and not officially?
Adam (California)
Regular alien visitation would require that the visitors either A: Have mastered a form of interstellar travel of some sort of quantum-mechanical nature that operates outside of the natural boundaries implied by relativity theory or B: Live in the neighborhood. Well, as our technology advances life hasn’t yet been proven to exist anywhere but here on Earth and Einstein continues to be proven correct, gravitational waves being the latest example. Count me as one of those who want to believe - based on the math there MUST be life elsewhere in the universe - but until more convincing evidence is presented I’ll be defaulting to these types of more factually supportable explanations. IMO the closest we’ve yet come to an alien visitor was Einstein himself, who was operating so far beyond the normal realm of human capability that he had to have been from somewhere else.
David Derbes (Chicago)
@Adam: I think you're right about alternatives A and B. Regarding A, we don't yet have a mathematically consistent quantum mechanical version of the best theory known to describe gravity, general relativity. And until we do, we simply don't know about travel faster than light. One of the tenets of physics is that information (as well as material objects) cannot travel faster than light. And yet, the extremely peculiar behavior of entangled particles (recognized this year in the Physics Nobel given to Aspect, Clauser and Zeilinger) suggests something like faster than light transmission of information. A quantum field theory of gravity may revise significantly our understanding of time and what is and is not possible about the motion of objects. This isn't science fiction; we simply don't know what the physics is. The article describes three of the Navy videos, dismissing two of them rather easily (perhaps too easily). The third, known informally as "Tic-Tac", apparently remains unexplained. If that video is of a genuine object, its behavior seems to violate some of what we understand about mechanics, certainly with respect to inertia and perhaps gravity. I'm an agnostic, though I'd like to believe. The skeptics will believe in any explanation, no matter how implausible; the true believers are convinced aliens built the pyramids. We need more science, more observation, and less certainty one way or the other.
David Campbell (USA)
Nikola Tesla had his ideas for alternating current appear to him out of thin air, out on a stroll; the Author Philip K Dick purported that an alien intelligence downloaded the VALIS story into his mind from a satellite. Dick later confronted his child's doctor on a suspicion that his kid had a deadly illness the doctors missed, which was also part of the transmission, and he was right. As you said, Einstein possessed intelligence beyond normal human capability at the time. Not my intent to diminish human capability, but if everything can be broken down into wavelengths, vibrations, particles and strings, who is to say something isn't plucking the right strings to enter this ascendant information into the human consciousness? If space travel proves impossible, quantum information travel might be the feasible option.
Joe (Boston)
@Adam That is a standard argument: sure they might exist but they could never get here. That is hubris. A technologically advanced species will know things that we don't yet comprehend. Faster-than-light speed, wormholes, portals, etc. Remember the Wright brothers only achieved flight in 1903, a little over a hundred years ago. Previously thought impossible.
John (Stowe, PA)
No kidding. Unidentified does not mean a spaceship. It just means it is not registered on a flight plan.
steve davidson (New Hampshire USA)
@John the idea of NOT substituting "some" kind of an explanation in the face of the unknown (not enough data to make a determination) is not properly taught in our public educational system, and needs to be. Furthermore, evolutionary traits encourage us to come up with unfounded explanations as part of our survival mechanisms and this is a maladaptation that needs to be regularly addressed and pushed back against.
Jean McK (Austin)
No, evolution has allowed us (and other animals) to draw plausible conclusions based on limited, not unfounded, information. Sometimes that means coming up with improbable explanations. The real problem comes when rational humans don’t use those abilities to revise the conclusion as better information comes in. That has a lot to do with credulity, wishful thinking, and often a lack of education.
W (Minneapolis, MN)
It's about time that the U.S. Navy fessed up to the known causes for the 'TIC-TAC' videos. The first time I saw the 'Gimbal' video (as mentioned in this article), I said to myself: "It's obviously a defect in the FLIR camera." In my mind, the real question was why the Navy didn't say what it was. They obviously were aware that a broken FLIR camera could cause the issue. Why are they obviously peddling in conspiracy theories? And, apparently, the TIC-TAC videos were originally released overseas, thereby side-stepping the Smith-Mundt Act. My only answer to that was: they're looking at how pilots react to psychological electronic warfare techniques. That is, how to fake out their sensors so that they 'chase the rabbit' (diverting their attention). 'Chase the rabbit' is a metaphor as explained by the following two videos: Greyhound racing - bunny fail greyhound race suddenly changes to real chasing due to real rabbit
manfred marcus (Bolivia)
Exactly right. Forget the fantasy of 'space aliens', a fabricated alternative reality to keep us in the News' propaganda. There are many things we humans don't know but, as Einstein said, the miracle is that there must be an explanation out there, for now as yet undiscovered. This is not to say that there are mysteries we humans shall never unravel, i.e. whether there is a God, as depicted, or not. It shall remain a mystery...and just a belief, about which we so stupidly fight about, creating dangerous divisions among us. Besides, if there were a God, all theistic religions ought to unite...instead of 'creating' unnecessary conflict.
sjpbpp (Baltimore. MD)
The object I saw on a clear day, on a flight from Bristol England to Malaga Spain was crystal clear was discharging a dense black substance while moving in an erratic pretzel like fashion. It then ACCELERATED from an almost stationary position to an amazing velocity that was many orders of magnitude faster than any rocket civilian or military rocket I've seen launched. We would all be better served if governmental agencies focused on the inexplicable. Ask Jimmy Carter what he saw then ask Fife Symington about the Phoenix lights. UFO or UAP observers agree the vast majority of sightings have non alien explanations but there remains a small percentage with no explanation. I don't think our government is applying new technology to the analysis it's just applying a new spin.
MAChap (Boston)
@sjpbpp Optical illusions are common. The human eye, and the parts of the brain that processes vision, is EXTREMELY FLAWED. The brain fills in quite a lot that the eye doesn't actually see. They say seeing is believing, but it is still far more likely that your brain added information.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@sjpbpp cool story, bro
Tater (New Mexico)
"The sightings have puzzled the Pentagon and intelligence agencies for years, fueling theories about visiting space aliens and spying by a hostile nation using advanced technology." That statement is false. All these sighting are known to be within current human technology. The lack of information is that they do not know which exact aircraft it is - but the aircraft model normally is discerned, and thus the Pentagon does not know, with certainty, if it is an Earthly foe or benign.
Michael McBrearty (New York, NY)
@Tater It is your statement that is false. No nation's aircraft can execute hairpin turns at thousands of miles an hour, as UAP have been recorded on radar screens actually doing. This is a feat way beyond current human capabilities.
Josh (Germany)
@Michael McBrearty , it may also have been an issue with the radar. That's the more likely hypothesis.
Songwriter (Los Angeles)
Rest assured. The DOD will continue "collecting data" forever. They will spend taxpayer dollars forever. They will never let up on their need for more and more money. And they will never give out the information they collect. Rest assured. Now go and prepare your 1040 and write that check!
betty durso (philly area)
Governments do not know what the incidents are. Speeds are almost instantaneous. It's not China
Hypersonic technology?
MAChap (Boston)
@betty durso Speed isn't known. Sensors and human perception of "speed" are derived imperfectly and subject to errors.
~ras (WA)
The response from our government is the same as it has always been; Nothing to see here folks.
Ms. Pea (Seattle)
@~ras -- Maybe that's because there's really nothing to see.
St. Tee (Arkansas)
But, but, but ancient astronaut theorists say ...
Winston Smith (USA)
NASA: "It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest - everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter - adds up to less than 5% of the universe." Since it's known that we cannot detect 95% of 'what is out there' .... could one say "There is something out there, and it ain't no gum wrapper".
Steve (Oregon)
As the number of people carrying cameras in their pockets at all times goes up, the number of UFO sightings goes down. And we still have not a single high resolution image of an alien. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.
MAChap (Boston)
@Steve Yep. And it seems the sightings are always just on the frontier of our sensors. These incidents aren't close enough to really see, and just close enough for the sensors to have bare minimum detection. The sweet spot for the lack of information to breed speculation.
The Grey (NYC)
@Steve Exactly! Not even one megapixel photo or video of the billions of smartphone users around the world. The jokers involved in this sham "disclosure" movement, Corbell, Knapp, Elizondo, DeLonge, Mellon, et al are likely political operatives or just doing it for social media clout. There is nothing that is stopping them from publishing high-res visual evidence but here we are 5 years into the movement since the NYT piece was published in 2017 and there's NOTHING to show for it.
Tom J (Berwyn, IL)
If there's one area that people can consider me a crackpot, it is this. I think there are things out there beyond human intelligence and I think our government knows it.
Chip (Wheelwell, Indiana)
@Tom J Human intelligence is proving very easy to get beyond.
John B (Florida)
Scientists think that there could possibly be life at Alpha Centauri, and Proxima b is currently thought to be the most likely habitable world in the system, with its Earth-like size and distance from its star. When humans can travel the 4.2 light years to Proxima b and if we discover intelligent life, let's just do some air show tricks in their skies, make some crop circles, and just return home.
Ken (Seattle)
I think it is hard to understate the enormous difficulty of interstellar travel. If there is intelligent life out there (and I think there is) and if they are visiting earth, this civilization would be thousands of years ahead of us. I don’t think their spaceships would need headlights or would have trouble overcoming our clunky 1950’s technology like radar. We wouldn’t even know they were there. Quote from the aliens: “oh look - those hairless apes were able to send a few hunks of metal in orbit around their planet! How cute.”
Jon Roberts (Pittsburgh, PA)
Corridor Crew on youtube does a great job of explaining many of these videos. Camera shutters can make shapes, and parallax effects make things seem to go really fast, other things like lens flares, or even just an insect inside the camera.
James (MacPherson)
@Jon Roberts All they are doing is offering a plausible alternative explanation for one aspect of the sightings. Skeptics take that as all the evidence they need since they are relying heavily on the premise that nothing ‘extraordinary’ is remotely likely.. But some of these sightings include pilots visually observing objects and confirming them across multiple systems. They aren’t just relying on what one video looks like. Some of these sightings include observing objects in the area and their behaviour for weeks. Certain conversations around space debris and plasma are interesting, but a lot of this comes off as trying to say the U.S. Navy doesn’t know what a drone looks like, or cannot intercept a party balloon with an F-16. It’s the new “swamp gas” cliche
Loren (Florida)
None of the navy vids show extraordinary flight characteristics. All we have for proof of such are pilot statements. But pilots are people and can either be mistaken or they might have agendas. Some of the eye witness descriptions by pilots (e.g. it was a black cube encased in a translucent sphere and it passed between our fighters at incredible speed) could be describing an ordinary drone. A drone with helicopter style blades might look like a translucent sphere. Sorry to say, there is no evidence yet of aliens.
Joseph Burkes (Los Angeles)
The same strategy of offering inadequate explanations are being used by Pentagon officials as part of a de facto policy of denial concerning the truly anomalous aspects of the unexplained portion of UFO sightings. Added to "swamp gas" and misidentifications of planets and meteors, in recent years, we now have Chinese drones and US top secret technology that UFOs supposedly have provided "cover" for. There has been a battle within the Pentagon and Executive Branch intelligence services for decades concerning the challenge of UFOs, and the old guard is pushing back to maintain their coverup of truly anomalous events. At least Congress members are being briefed on the topic, but this is happening under the cover of secrecy, and the public is still being denied any significant information about what are now called "UAP."
William (Lowell, MI)
Of course "Many Military U.F.O. Reports Are Just Foreign Spying or Airborne Trash..." but that is not the point. Are ALL of them? Look up interviews with Gordon Cooper, Edgar Mitchell, Jimmy Carter, and many other credible witnesses.
RG (Massachusetts)
“Once I was traveling across the sky This lovely planet caught my eye And being curious I flew close by And now I'm caught here till I die” - Matthew Moore (as recorded by Joe Cocker)
Marcy (DMV)
Nice article. As a companion piece I recommend Netflix’s latest installment of Unsolved Mysteries. One episode concerns a mass UAP sighting in southwest Michigan on March 8, 1994. Sightings by people on the ground and pilots in the air. Interestingly, the phenomena people witnessed were also picked up on the National Weather Service local radar. What, or who, was that?
Marge Keller (Midwest)
@Marcy Great suggestion. I just saw that issue and I was rather unnerved. Highly doubt weather balloons or airborne clutter were the culprits. Kind of unsettling that government officials are still trying to discount the thousands of sightings and encounters so many people have witnesses over the many decades. Do these officials really think folks still trust and believe what they are peddling? At first I thought I was reading an article from the 1950s . . . We are not alone here.
Shamrock (Westfield)
We are not alone. We have never been .. alone.
mja (LA, Calif)
@Shamrock In fact, we're way overcrowded.
@Shamrock We may not be alone. Assuming there are even trillions of possibly habitable planets, how many of these planets will exist within in the perfect "Goldilicks Zone" seen on planet earth that make life possible? Assuming there are billions of these "Goldilocks planets", how many of them will have exactly replicated the billion year history of geological and biological life and death cycles that gave rise to homo sapien. And even if these conditions were replicated how will we ever know they existed ? Traveling at the speed of light what we see "now" may be a civilization that existed millions of year in the past that no longer exist.
George S (New York, NY)
It doesn't matter what the Pentagon or NSA says, you will simply not quell the speculation from those who want to believe these encounters are evidence of whatever their favorite answer is, CCP activity, alien ships, whatever.
John Brown (Washington D.C.)
@George S The videos and audio of various airborne encounters speaks for itself. I'm more inclined to believe that agencies would lie to the media that these encounters (that we all saw evidence of) were "pieces of trash" in order to kill interest in the story and allow them to conduct research on peace, than I am to believe that hamfisted story.
Rapscallion (DC)
@John Brown How does a video speak for itself if the watcher doesn't know what they're looking at?
MAChap (Boston)
@John Brown Conspiracies are tempting. But the bigger the conspiracy, the harder to keep secret for long. I'm much more inclined to disbelieve human perception as it has proven to be very flawed.
Steve (Kansas)
I'm sure the giant brains analyzing all the weather balloons and floating foil gum wrappers will give us the answer. At least we know it's not swamp gas. That's a relief.
Raymond (San Francisco, California)
Now that everyone carries an HD camera at all times, we regularly see spectacular video of rare weather phenomena, car crashes, natural disasters, etc. Yet, when it comes to "UFOs", a quick perusal of youtube shows blurry, grainy garbage, interesting but otherwise mundane, explainable phenomena, or fairly obvious fakes. Couple that with most of us being untrained, unreliable observers, and the whole "space alien" theory falls apart pretty fast.
Tim (Boston)
@Raymond you apparently have not looked. There is a lot of credible evidence online if you look
William (Canada)
“If there are HD cameras why are there no better pictures” There are clear pictures, but you would probably just dismiss it as a hoax anyway. Also, you try taking a picture or video of something that is travelling at several times the speed of sound, stops and starts moving again randomly in zigzag patterns far away, and your overused counter argument of “If there are HD cameras why are there no better pictures” falls apart pretty fast. If you understood how the FLIR and infrared cameras worked, you would realize that these are not lens flares and artifacts. They are real objects putting our understanding of the laws of physics into question, especially since camera artifacts don’t show up on properly functioning radars and reconnaissance satellites. That’s what makes this so weird. I’m not concluding this as extra-terrestrial, but I’m very open to that given this technology was not in the conscious of the scientific establishment in the late 1940s which is when these exact same encounters as the navy pilots had started occurring. Keep an open mind!
MAChap (Boston)
@William it seems the sightings are always just on the frontier of our sensors. These incidents aren't close enough to really see, and just close enough for the sensors to have bare minimum detection. The sweet spot for the lack of information to breed speculation.
Patrick (Minnesota)
The accounts of UAP encounters from fighter pilots David Fravor and Ryan Graves which were printed in this paper in 2017 hardly suggest any mundane explanation. It would be nice to see some of the previous reporting that was done at that time used to provide context in this article. It was worth mentioning a few years ago, it seems like it should still be relevant today.
Loren (Florida)
Ryan saw radar blips and knows someone who saw an object with his own eyes. Fravor is indeed someone who says he saw tic tacs, but there are experts who say he could have misjudged things. The videos don’t show anything spectacular,
Joe (Boston)
@Patrick Indeed. Fravor also had a great interview on Rogan. Travis Walton also.
Rapscallion (DC)
@Patrick It would be nice if people exercised just a smidgen of critical thinking before declaring that aliens have arrived (for real this time!). Any object can be a UFO if you're bad enough at identifying flying objects.
jg (ca)
There could not possibly be aliens from other planets, therefore, there must always be a simple explanation. Or so the thinking goes. You can analyze videos all you want, but what about the experienced pilots who saw things with their own eyes that simply defy any explanation that we can offer? In my mind, eye witness in clear skies is far better than any analysis of videos or other after-the-fact interpretation. So what happened? Are these aliens? I don't know, and no one knows. Can we simply admit that we don't know, instead of offering speculative explanations that support preconceived beliefs, one way or the other?
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@jg Nothing defies explanation. All of these events and videos that have been examined by experts have been explained. The problem is that their explanations are not viral on the internet, you have to track down the research. What you will find when you do that is that there is no mystery. the equipment used to image these sightings have known anomalies that can present when the equipment is used wrong. Pilots who have no clue how their equipment works other than pushing a button can easily be confused, and inexperienced pilots can lose situational awareness and interpret things much differently than what they were. Observers who report the incredible speed of flying objects or their ability to quickly change direction are doing just that, they are misinterpreting what they see as something else. Pilots who see something unusual can and do make the same mistakes. This ignorance of object movement at a distance is common and is the basis for almost all UFO reports.
Rapscallion (DC)
@jg Experienced pilots see things they can't explain all the time. They're pilots, not flying-object identification experts. So can we simply admit that despite years of hoaxes and bad video footage, not one single person has ever produced evidence of alien life visiting Earth?
MAChap (Boston)
@jg You've got that completely backwards. Human perception is extremely flawed, and at least sensors can have diagnostics and logs that show how little information was actually collected. A human being misremembers an event that happened 10 minutes ago and memory gets worse and worse for every retelling. The human brain fills in gaps of information that the eye never saw. There are dozens of explained optical illusions and countless unexplained optical illusions. Observers can't be trusted. Recorded evidence is vastly superior, just like in a court of law.
Fox Mulder (Alexandria, VA)
I want to believe.
Maria (Ottawa)
@Fox Mulder Why? Stephen Hawking thought an encounter between humans and aliens would have a violent and bloody outcome.
Seth (Illinois)
Zero of the "UFO" videos released by the Pentagon are "unexplainable" - this video goes through all of them and explains what's happening in each -
Chris (New Jersey)
I do love a good conspiracy theory. No one can rule out visits from other worlds throughout human history. Don’t you watch Ancient Aliens? This a Rabbit Hole I very much enjoy going down. Really? They built the pyramids with COPPER tools? Oh. And no archaeological dig has ever found any tools at any site from Ancient Egypt….One of the best civilizations in terms of record-keeping, etc. and NO mention of how they built the things….And on and on. Love it. Just a BIT suspicious that they’re now doubling back after admitting there ARE UFOs (call them what you like) and now, all of sudden, “Just kidding. We figured a lot of them out.”
Rapscallion (DC)
@Chris No one "admitted" these were aliens. They called them "unidentified." Now they've been identified. It's not that hard.
MAChap (Boston)
@Chris Biggest Revelation that will open your mind is this... Documentaries are allowed to lie to you. Why was it so easy for you to believe it at face value when it said no tools were found?
William (Canada)
For the gimbal video, it’s not a lens artifact because lens artifacts don’t show up on radar like what was said by the pilots in the video “there’s a whole fleet of them look on the SA”. With for the flir 1 video (tic-tac), they not only saw these things doing incredible flight maneuvers with their eyes, but it showed up on their properly functioning radar and spy satellite, which validate eyewitness testimony. On one instance they were flying at 80,000 ft and dropped down to sea level in 0.78 seconds. They ran diagnostics (I mean, why wouldn’t you for that kind of case) and everything was working properly. Prospect of “aliens” aside, I do believe there is a scientific discovery to be made here. This technology if investigated, and researched to see if we could build these kind of advanced aerial vehicles, could revolutionize transport and human travel, and retire the combustion engine. We just need defence departments around the world to share the data they have on this with the scientific establishment. In a video interview for a documentary called “the phenomenon”, Sen. Harry Reid said “Most of it (the evidence on UAP) hasn’t seen the light of day.
Mark F (Austin)
@William That's what I don;t understand - some of these were seen on radar and camera, so how is that explained. I'm more than prepared to find out all these incidents are explainable, but I think some people jump to explanations are readily as others jump to little green men.
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@William There is nothing out there. Every sighting can be traced to equipment that is being used wrong. But try to get the military to admit to that.
Kvetch (Maine)
We can add conspiracy theories to death and taxes. Nothing the government provides as evidence that we aren't in fact being visited by aliens will ever dislodge people who think JFK Jr is going to be on the ticket in 2024. We should all just pat the Pentagon people on the shoulder and tell them "That'll do General, that'll do."
drollere (sebastopol, CA)
mr. barnes is a bit biased in his presentation of the facts. here is a partial corrective. it's well known since the 1950's that the majority of UFO reports have a prosaic explanation. estimates vary depending on the reports you are talking about, but "trash" reports may be 80% to 98% of the total. there remains 2% to 20% of reports that are not described by experts as "unidentified" but as *unexplained*. in that group, literally astounding observations have been made. barnes quotes three disputed conclusions about GIMBAL, GOFAST and "chinese drones" that molest military ships. if the pentagon has a definitive analysis of these events then those should be public. dr. travis taylor, former chief scientist to the DoD UFO study group, disputes these conclusions -- attach "UFO" to the keywords, search the web for video discussions, and decide for yourself. as a scientist both by training and temperament, i state two facts: 1. unexplained UFO are a "real thing"; and 2. we have no idea what they are, how they work, or why they appear. in the 1950's the CIA and DoD jointly launched disinformation campaign on the premise that public panic about UFO -- not UFO themselves -- was a threat to national security. this campaign created a "UFO stigma" that has never been officially repudiated as propaganda. extraterrestrial aliens? -- there is no public proof for this. unexplained? yes, absolutely -- as true today as 70 years ago. search "UFO as Wildlife" to learn more.
Bobotheclown (Pa)
@drollere Given the limitless number of phenomena that exist in the sky's above us it is normal to expect that most of it is unexplained. What that suggests is that the average person is not good at guessing. One would think that military personnel would be different but that would be wrong. There are many reports of certain types of unexplained objects around military ships because those ships have high tech imaging systems that can produce a wide variety of anomalies when they are used wrong. It is obvious that there are no aliens out there and that these sightings are something else. The fact that it is usually equipment malfunctions or bad training is an embarrassing conclusion that the military is not going to admit to. From their perspective it is better to admit to UFO's than incompetent pilots.
Sv (Santa Rosa)
@drollere Thank you. I saw a UFO in 1996 with a large group of people in the middle of nowhere in South America. However, I am convinced it was a natural phenomena (something magnetic like aurora borealis). It was solid white circle that after 20 minutes become transparent and disappeared. It was a clear moonless night, we thought it was the moon at the beginning. These articles where the options are aliens or manmade are narrow. People weren't sure about the existence of great balls of fire until they were captured on film. It would be great if there was a place to report such sightings in a straight-forward manner. We were able to report it to the European Space Agency, but in the USA UFOs are taboo.
See also