Intelligent life

The federal government spent millions studying UFOs—and finally copped to doing so

Over the holidays, I read an interesting and widely reported story about four U.S. Navy personnel flying in two F/A-18F Super Hornets and their encounter with an unidentified flying object off the Southern California coast. The incident happened in 2004 but the federal government, which, between 2007 and 2012, operated a program to investigate such phenomena, only recently verified that it took place.

Before you envision me wearing a tinfoil hat, keep in mind that the feds also copped to the existence of the heretofore under-the-radar program—the so-called Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP)—in response to questions from The New York Times. Moreover, the government released a portion of audio and video of the aforementioned incident. You can read about it in-depth in the Times or check out articles in dozens of other newspapers, magazines and TV outlets—everything from Fox News to Newsweek.

Here’s the quick version: The pilots were summoned to the location of the object—reportedly 100 miles from shore—by officials on an aircraft carrier who’d spotted something on the vessel’s radar. What the men found was described as whitish, oval-shaped and about 40 feet long. And as they tried to investigate further, it “accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one of the pilots, Cmdr. David Fravor, told the Times. Fravor, in a separate interview with the newspaper, emphasized that he sticks by his account. His answer, when questioned about what the thing was: “Something not from Earth.” That’s a direct quote.

The statement is eyebrow-raising, as is him presumably having been given the go-ahead to talk about it publicly. Also stunning is the Pentagon’s recent acknowledgment that the AATIP was real. It’s clear that the agency didn’t want the public to know about the program—its $22 million in annual funding was buried in the Defense Department’s $600 billion budgets just for the purpose of keeping it secreted.

So, why now, I wonder, is the government opening the door—albeit cracking it ever so slightly—into this shadowy effort to investigate UFOs? A trial balloon, perhaps?

I don’t have any answers, but I do know this: It’s hard to dismiss the testimony of U.S. fighter pilots—aviation experts—who witnessed advanced aircraft that a) they didn’t recognize, and b) outmaneuvered their planes in a way that is apparently impossible based on known technology.

I’ve often wondered if extraterrestrial life exists, and, if so, what aliens might think of Earth and its inhabitants. If we have been visited, as Cmdr. Fravor suggests, I wonder for what purpose. I can just picture an alien hovering its ship over the ocean, just like he described, studying the ecological damage human beings have done to the planet. I certainly hope the good old US of A isn’t judged based on the “very stable genius” who currently occupies the White House or the greedy corporations that helped put him there. I cringe at the thought.

AATIP was only partially declassified, and has purportedly been shuttered since 2012, though some former federal officials say it’s still active. Considering the recent revelations, you’d hope such research would continue. Then again, based on current events, the money might be better spent searching for intelligent life here on Earth.