The Mystery: Do UFOs exist? And if so, what are they?
The Backstory: In recent months, new revelations from the United States Department of Defense has reignited the debate over whether UFOs exist. At the same time, a number of pilots, including a couple of retired Naval aviators, came forward to detail their encounters, including one that was reported as a near-collision after a UFO, described as an orb with a cube at its center, slid in between a couple of Super Hornets flying formation before it hyper-accelerated away.
It’s not just one crazy pilot, either. There’s video evidence, including one onboard weapons system image—the F/A-18 carried no actual weapons—that shows a very saucer-looking object. On multiple occasions off of both U.S. coasts, aircraft have picked up such craft on their radar. Shipboard radar has too, and the location, flight paths and speed of the craft were perfectly synced. On one occasion, the radar controller gave two Super Hornets a rendezvous point 40 miles from their present position, and the unknown flying object appeared there in a matter of seconds, indicating there are no objects in our natural world anywhere near as fast. And these things can hover, too.
The speed is problematic. Humans couldn’t survive such immediate accelerations and decelerations; our machines couldn’t either. So it’s not possible that the craft was piloted, at least not by humans, anyway. And we’re not being facetious. Oh, did we mention that the craft had no plume or heat signature?
Are you an aviation enthusiast or pilot? Sign up for our newsletter, full of tips, reviews and more!
A shadowy government operation known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was formed in 2007 to look into the subject of UFOs. But it ran its course, and the plug got pulled in 2012. That’s the official story, though word on the street is that it’s still in business, though its funding source can’t be found anywhere in the federal budget. So, it’s a top-secret program, and one has to wonder why.
The nomenclature has changed somewhat. Unidentified Flying Objects are now referred to as Unexplained Aerial Phenomena, which dodges the question of whether they are craft or not, not to mention that “UAP” will never be as cool a tag as “UFO.”
And the Pentagon has even established a reporting methodology, admitting that its highly qualified pilots and high-end radar systems are seeing something.
But what are they seeing?
The theories break down in several main ways. They are: aliens in spacecraft, natural phenomena (the old swamp gas theory), other kinds of craft mistaken for UFOs (the weather balloon story), poltergeist-level hacking of the radar systems, mass hysteria on the part of the pilots, and have we said “alien spacecraft” yet?
First, the swamp gas thing. The object spotted by Navy pilots in 2014 gives pause. They were flying Super Hornet fighter jets in close formation when an object suddenly appeared between them. The object, which the pilots described as a sphere encasing a cube, could nearly instantly accelerate to hypersonic speed and climb at rates unknown in human aviation, that human pilots would not be able to survive. Similar objects at much farther range were picked up by onboard and ship-based radar systems, with the course and altitude readouts agreeing between ship and jet.
This tells us a few things with a high degree of certainty. First, it wasn’t swamp gas. There was no swamp nearby, and gas of any kind, no matter how bad it is, is incapable of behaving as the spotted UFOs did.
Mass hysteria is another subject that deserves close scrutiny. Known technically as collective obsessional behavior or mass psychogenic illness, the phenomenon is factually recognized in modern psychological thinking as an observable behavior that can be documented, and has been. There are numerous cases of it afflicting groups of people. A famous case involved a body in Southern California that was emitting toxic fumes and making healthcare workers, including doctors, violently ill. It was all in their minds. And while one might guess that collective obsessional behavior overwhelmingly affects people without professional certification or college degrees, one would be wrong. The majority of documented cases involve highly trained, well-educated people. What no documented incident of mass psychogenic illness has is physical evidence that the focus of the behavior is real. In this case, there’s extensive evidence of UFOs.
Perhaps most important is that the details of the sightings almost certainly indicate that these are actual objects and not hacked software. The act of hacking the software of F-A/18 fighter jet radar and weapons acquisition systems, which are classified technology, would be daunting even for the people who build those systems. But the thought of simultaneously hacking the radar systems of ship- and land-based installations is not only practically impossible but very likely impossible—period. And if one were to do so, why would they do it to create periodic sightings of strange objects?
Could the objects be secret military technology, like a secret drone program that harnesses technology so secret and advanced? That’s not likely, either. Why would the military play such games with top-secret tech? The short answer is, it wouldn’t.
But apart from these objects being from a foreign government, which is even harder to fathom than supposing they were from our own, it’s the only real explanation.
The Truth: The only conclusion is that these are actual objects that behave in ways that no known objects behave or could reasonably be expected to behave. The larger questions, what are they, who made them and who’s operating them, remain perplexing mysteries, though ones that we might be closer to understanding.