by Callum Paton April 17, 2019 (newsweek.com)
- Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been recorded since ancient times. But it was Kenneth Arnold’s sighting of flying saucers near Mount Rainier in 1947 that launched the modern era of UFO sightings. The U.S. military immediately moved to discredit Arnold’s claims, along with any other claim of the existence of an extraterrestrial UFO. “The (Arnold) report cannot bear even superficial examination, therefore, must be disregarded,” the Air Force Materiel Command wrote. With Project Blue Book, the Air Force went on to discredit every single UFO sighting until the project’s end in 1969.
- However, the civilian scientist who helped to run Project Blue Book, Allen Hynek, claimed that the Air Force had underplayed the credibility of UFOs. He went on to devise a classification system for grading UFO sightings – ‘close encounters of the third kind’, etc.
- Taking its cue from Hynek, Newsweek magazine created its own rating system for UFO sightings on a point-based system. They points are awarded, or subtracted, based on factors such as witness credibility, photographic/video evidence, flight attributes, proximity, physical effect, and discredit by the government/military. The writer also used input from the Scientific Coalition for UFOlogy (SCU) composed of 45 UFO ‘experts’.
- SCU board member Robert Powell says that some 6,000 UFO encounters are reported every year. “Ninety-eight percent or more of sightings are basically misidentifications of airplanes or Chinese lanterns, or a variety of different things,” Powell told Newsweek. Chiming in, Seth Shostak, the Senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, told Newsweek, “Could the rest be alien craft? Maybe, but that’s like saying that the 40 percent of homicides committed in New York City that are unsolved could be due to alien murderers. Possible, but not likely.”
- Here are 25 UFO sightings and their ‘credibility rating’ according to this Newsweek writer:
- Roswell Incident – Roswell, New Mexico July 1947: Hundreds of witnesses claim an alien craft crash landed near a ranch with one or more dead extraterrestrial beings inside. In 1997, the Air Force released a report denying everything, and declaring “case closed”. Credibility Rating: -2
- Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting – Mount Rainier, Washington June 1947: Pilot Kenneth Arnold witnessed nine “circular-type” objects flying in formation at twice the speed of sound. It was dismissed out of hand by an Air Force investigation. Arnold maintained his account until his death in 1984. Credibility Rating: 0
- Levelland UFO Case – Levelland, Texas November 1957: Multiple witnesses reported seeing an egg-shaped object or a large flash of light moving across the sky in the small Texas town. The sighting was later discredited by the Air Force’s Project Blue Book, claiming the phenomenon had been caused by severe electrical storms and ball lightning. Credibility Rating: 0
- Stephenville, Texas Sighting – Stephenville, Texas January 2008: Multiple witnesses reported seeing inexplicable objects moving through the sky or bright lights. Naval Air Station Fort Worth at first said that no planes had been active from that base that night. Then they retracted and claimed that those were their planes after all. Credibility Rating: 0
- NASA Curiosity Rover Photograph – Mars March 2019: Ufologist Scott C. Waring claims to have spotted a UFO on Mars in images beamed back from NASA’s Curiosity Rover. Credibility Rating: 1
- The Washington, D.C. Flap – Washington, D.C. July 1952: On two separate occasions Air Force F-94s were scrambled over Washington after UFOs were sighted on radar at Andrews and Bolling Air Force bases. The bogeys cruised at between 100 to 130 mph before zooming off at incredible speed, outrunning the military jets. Credibility Rating: 3
- Valensole UFO Sighting – Valensole, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France
July 1965: Maurice Masse claimed he saw two humanoid aliens land a spherical UFO in a field and exit the craft. The French farmer said he was left paralyzed when one of the beings pointed a cylindrical instrument at him. The pair then flew away after briefly inspecting the surroundings. Credibility Rating: 3
- Delphos Ring Incident – Delphos, Kansas November 1971: Sixteen-year-old Ronald Johnson claimed to have seen a glowing object hovering over a specific area close to his family farm in the early evening. When he went to fetch other witnesses the object had vanished. However, an eerie glowing ring was found where the UFO had been. Another witness corroborated to police the sighting of the strange flying object. Credibility Rating: 3
- Loring Air Force Base Sighting – Loring Air Force Base, Maine October 1975: On two successive nights service members reported seeing a cigar-shaped UFO hovering over Loring Air Force Base, which was also seen on radar. The government attributed it to “unidentified helicopter(s) flying out of Canada.” Credibility Rating: 3
- Val Johnson Incident – Marshall County, Minnesota August 1979: On the morning on September 11, 1979, Marshall County sheriff’s deputy Val Johnson encountered what he described as a white ball of light hovering a few feet above the ground while driving on a rural section of a State Highway. “[S]uddenly it was in the car with me”. Johnson woke up in a ditch half an hour later. His patrol car had suffered superficial damage and he had burns around his eyes. Credibility Rating: 3
- Cash-Landrum Sighting – Dayton, Texas December 1980: Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and Colby Landrum claim they were followed by hovering disc with a single fiery thruster as they drove home in eastern Texas. When the trio abandoned their car they felt intense heat generated by the UFO. All three claimed to suffer health problems in the aftermath of the encounter. Credibility Rating: 3
- Trans-en-Provence Case – Trans-en-Provence,Var, France January 1981: Renato Nicolaï, a 55-year-old farmer, observed a saucer-shaped UFO land on his property at a distance of about 50 yards. The lead-colored vessel then lifted off from the ground and flew towards a nearby tree line. The case is considered remarkable because of scorch marks left by the machine, documented and extensively analysed by French authorities. Credibility Rating: 3
- Belgian UFO Wave – Belgium March 1990: Over a number of days, scores of individuals reported seeing strange lights in the sky over Belgium. Belgian Air Force F-16s claimed to have seen nothing. But the European media exploded when an image of one of the triangular UFOs emerged, which was then revealed to be a fake. Credibility Rating: 3
- Phoenix Lights Phenomenon – Phoenix, Arizona March 1997: Hundreds of witnesses saw “otherworldly” lights move across the night sky over Arizona, Nevada and northern Mexico. The sighting consisted of a giant V-shaped craft with lights and a series of stationary orange and red lights hanging in the sky. Arizona’s governor at the time, Fife Symington, said. “It was bigger than anything that I’ve ever seen. It remains a great mystery.” Credibility Rating: 3
- McMinnville UFO Photographs – McMinnville, Oregon May 1950: Paul Trent captured images of a UFO on camera after his wife spotted a slow-moving metal disk near their farm. The images were printed in Life magazine. The pair maintained their account until their deaths. Credibility Rating: 4
- Shag Harbour Sighting – Shag Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada October 1967: Multiple witnesses, including pilots, reported to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police that they had witnessed a UFO with many flashing lights flying over the shoreline. A dozen or so witnesses said they saw a glowing orange sphere crash into the water and then slip beneath the surface. No wreckage was ever found. Credibility Rating: 4
- The 1976 Tehran Incident – Tehran, Iran September 1976: Two Iranian F-4 interceptor aircraft reported their equipment jammed as they approached a star-shaped UFO over the Iranian capital. Ground control equipment at Mehrabad International Airport was also affected by the strange craft. The pilot Parviz Jafari said he attempted to fire on the UFO but was unable to cause any damage. “My weapons jammed and my radio communications garbled.” Credibility Rating: 4
- Coyne, Mansfield Helicopter Incident – Mansfield, Ohio October 1973: Four crew members of an Army Reserve helicopter recorded a near collision with a UFO near Charles Mill Lake. The incident was corroborated by witnesses in Richland and Ashland counties who described an object or a ball of light moving in a manner inconsistent with human flight. The crew on the helicopter, piloted by Lawrence Coyne, reported seeing a 60-foot-long, cigar-shaped object with a bright green light. Credibility Rating: 4
- Nancy France Sighting – Nancy, Grand Est, France October 1982: A biologist, M. Henri, and his wife observed a UFO that hovered for 20 minutes over their garden. The egg-shaped vessel had a shiny metallic appearance. Henri attempted to photograph the craft but found his camera had jammed. After the UFO regained altitude it moved at a speed and trajectory impossible for man-made aircraft. Credibility Rating: 4
- Japan Airlines Flight 1628 Incident – Alaska November 1986: The pilot, Kenji Terauchi, and crew of a Japan Airlines cargo flight from Paris to Tokyo reported seeing strange flashing colorful lights that followed their aircraft over Alaska while the plane cruised at 35,000 feet. Credibility Rating: 4
- Chicago O’Hare Airport Sighting – Chicago, Illinois November 2006: On an overcast day, United Airlines staff and pilots at Chicago O’Hare Airport reported seeing a flying saucer hovering over the airport terminal. The vessel then shot up into the air so quickly that it punched a hole in the clouds. The FAA called it a “weather phenomenon” and did not further investigate the incident. Credibility Rating: 4
- Rendlesham Forest Incident – Suffolk, England December 1980: Between December 26-28, 1980, U.S. Air Force personnel stationed at RAF Bentwaters reported seeing strange lights near Rendlesham forest. The incident was never investigated. However, radar operators at the base recounted how they had observed a UFO moving too quickly for normal human flight. Credibility Rating: 5
- Aguadilla Airport Incident – Aguadilla, Puerto Rico April 2013: A UFO was seen flying at low altitude across the Rafael Hernandez Airport runway in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection aircraft captured infrared video of the episode that was given to the Scientific Coalition for UFOology (SCU). The video shows the vessel travelling without lights below tree-top altitude, at speeds close to 100 mph. Credibility Rating: 6
- USS Nimitz Tic-Tac UFO Incident – California Coast November 2004: U.S. Navy pilot Cmdr. David Fravor recalled seeing “something not from this earth” – a tic-tac shaped vessel moving at great speed – while commanding a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron during exercises some 60 to 100 miles off the coast of Baja California. He recounted observing. A separate Navy jet crew tracked the object and filmed it for more than a minute. The footage was publicized by the New York Times following following the Pentagon’s acknowledgement of its Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, a recent study of UFO sightings. Credibility Rating: 6
- F/A-18 Super Hornet GO FASTER Video – East Coast 2015: The third video recently released by the Pentagon shows the high-speed flight of an unidentified aircraft at low altitude by a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet off over the Atlantic off of Virginia.
- [Editor’s Note] All of these UFO incidents, with the exception of Scott Waring’s UFO on Mars, are credible and true, and are excellent accounts to look into. This arbitrary rating system, however, is simply the mainstream media’s way of assuring the public that they are on top of the UFO phenomenon, and, as usual, there is nothing here to be concerned about. But should anything new happen that might change this perspective, the mainstream media will be there to tell the people what to believe.
The modern era of UFO sightings began in 1947 when Kenneth Arnold, a businessman and pilot from Idaho, spotted what he believed was a formation of flying saucers near Mount Rainier in Washington. Encounters with unidentified flying objects have been recorded since ancient times, but Arnold’s sighting hooked the American public. It was the encounter that launched a thousand theories.
The U.S. military attempted to discredit Arnold’s claims. “The report cannot bear even superficial examination, therefore, must be disregarded,” the Air Force Materiel Command wrote in a now-declassified document.
As reported sightings increased and UFO obsession spread like wildfire, its flames fanned by the notorious Roswell incident, the military attempted to douse the issue. A series of UFO studies commissioned by the U.S. Air Force culminated in Project Blue Book, which wrapped up in 1969 and found no evidence of the presence of extraterrestrial vehicles on Earth or in the skies above.
The Air Force clearly hoped to put an end to the UFO craze—but the studies had the opposite effect. Josef Allen Hynek, who had overseen the Air Force efforts, broke with the military, claiming the importance of UFOs had been underplayed. His scientific analysis forms much of the basis of modern UFOlogy and his close encounters classification system is the benchmark in grading the credibility of UFO sightings.
In devising our own credibility rating system for UFO sightings, Newsweek built upon Hynek’s foundations. The astronomer and preeminent UFOlogist valued sightings that involved multiple or highly credible witnesses. We have also incorporated advances in technology into our scale. The advent of cameras and infrared devices on aircraft have presented new kinds of evidence for sightings.
The credibility scale works on a point-based system. One point is given for sightings with multiple witnesses, another for an expert witness (a pilot, air traffic controller, military or government official). One point is awarded for picture evidence and an additional point for film of a moving UFO. Unidentified flying objects can often be explained away as foreign aircraft, so an additional point is given for UFOs seen to be flying in a manner inconsistent with flight as humans know it.
Hynek also prized close encounters. Close encounters of the first kind—sightings of an object less than 500 feet away—are given one point. Close encounters of the second kind, a UFO event where a physical effect is felt (a car light breaks, extreme heat is felt, scorch marks on the ground), are given two points. Finally, close encounters of the third kind, instances where an animated pilot is seen, earn three points.
A system for removing points has also been incorporated to account for cases where military or government bodies have discredited the sightings. Three points are removed in these cases, as the baseline for credibility in the scale begins at three.
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