Tag: Robert Powell

Ufology: From Fringe to Serious Science

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Article by MJ Banias                          November 22, 2019                        (popularmechanics.com)

• In an interview with MJ Banias of Popular Mechanics, Richard Hoffman and Robert Powell discuss the creation of the ‘Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies’. Hoffman and Powell occupy two of the three seats on the non-profit’s governing board. The purpose of the ‘SCU’ is to establish a scientifically credible organization that will collect “multiple sensory data” on UAPs, such as radar tracks and video, which can be analyzed and studied by scientific experts, rather than to simply report and tally random UFO sightings. They intend to publish these studies in a biannual peer-reviewed journal set to begin next year.

• ‘Unidentified Ariel Phenomenon’ or UAP is the current rebranding of Unidentified Flying Objects because the term UFO carries too much cultural baggage.

• The SCU currently has 69 active members who are mostly scientists, former military officers, and former law enforcement personnel with technical experience and investigative backgrounds with companies and agencies such as Lockheed, NORAD, the U.S. Space Command, and NASA. Device physics expert Robert Powell says, “To date, there hasn’t been an extensive and well-funded scientific investigation of these phenomena using state-of-the-art investigative tools and a dedicated investigative team.” The SCU intends to change this.

• Richard Hoffman is a 25-year information technology expert on contract with the U.S. Army’s Material Command at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. Hoffman notes that “The scientific community still has to deal with the decades of stigma associated with what they see as pseudoscience or fringe science.” “Many scientists do have interests in the phenomena, but are most often discouraged by others to embrace it so they hide it.”

• While the SCU doesn’t suppose that non-human intelligence is responsible for UFOs, some scientists have starting to ask more questions in the wake of revelations by the US Navy that UAPs having “capabilities…beyond any known technology” exist, and that the Pentagon ran an Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to study UFOs. The organization has suggested that “the public release of all Navy records associated with (the Nimitz ‘tic tac’ UFO) incident to enable a full, scientific and open investigation is strongly recommended.”

• Still, contemporary ufology makes many academics and scientists nervous. For as long as humans have claimed to have seen UFOs, the established scientific community has been conditioned to consider them nonsense. And the decades-long taboo surrounding UFOs can still kill a professional career. When physical evidence or data has been presented, the well-established ufological conspiracy and myth-making machines set out to discredit that data.

• In 1953, the Robertson Panel was formed at the behest of the government to look at UFO reports after a string of odd aerial objects were seen over Washington, D.C. the previous year. The panel concluded that UFOs posed no risk to national security. Furthermore, it proposed that the National Security Council actively debunk UFO reports and make them the subject of ridicule. The Panel even recommended that UFO investigative and research groups be monitored by intelligence agencies for subversive activity. (see Robertson Panel Report here)

• In 1969, the US Air Force and the University of Colorado produced the Condon Report to close down Project Blue Book (see Condon Report here). A controversial memorandum surfaced that revealed that the report itself had to “trick” the public into thinking the study was objective, but would ensure that the final and official position is that all UFO incidents were hoaxes, delusion and human error. (see memorandum here) UFOs were lumped in with stories of space men from Venus, alien bases in Antarctica, and a subculture of people claiming to be alien channelers, time-traveling ambassadors, and new-age UFO prophets.

• Other UFO study organizations include Project Hessdalen in Norway that monitors strange light phenomena, and the UFO Data Acquisition Project that is designing computer software to monitor and track aerial phenomenon as well as provide metadata that can be analyzed. Alexander Wendt is a political science professor at the Ohio State University who sits on the board of UFOData which also tracks anomalous phenomena in the skies. According to Wendt, neither the government nor the established scientific community are going to fund UFO research. Says Wendt, “I don’t get the sense the scientific community is any more interested or open than it was before. The solution seems to be crowdfunding or finding private donors to invest in these projects.

• In the end, we are simply left to wonder, “What if?” Could the source of some of these data-rich UFO incidents be secret government technology, an alien intelligence, or something fundamentally beyond our physical and philosophical understanding?

[Editor’s Note]  While the purported intention of this article is to bring the UFO community the good news that “real” scientists have stepped forward to conduct “serious” study of the UFO phenomenon, the underlying design of the article, as is typical of this writer, MJ Banias, is to create ‘limited disclosure’ by separating scientifically worthy UFO data from the “conspiracy theories” that deserve to remain on the fringe. I suspect that Banias’ assertive use of the term UAP rather than UFO is also a subconscious cue to treat UAPs as legitimate and UFOs as crazy talk. Soon they will draw a hard line of demarcation as to the type of UFOs that people should pay attention to, and the type that people should not.

The clever Banias employs the mention of past official efforts to stymie UFO research to make his writing seem fair and objective, as if he is “fighting the stigma”. Banias ends the article with the open-ended question “what if” to make it appear that his limited disclosure camp would actually consider that these UFOs might be associated with intelligent extraterrestrial sources interacting with our world – which he doesn’t. MJ Banias can barely wrap his head around the Navy authenticating UFOs with unknown technology. He can’t even bring himself to use the term UFO. To Banias, the existence of anything beyond nebulous UAP sightings is still impossible, belonging to the realm of kooky science fiction rather than mainstream science. Banias maintains the same old dictum: ‘extraterrestrials do not exist, therefore it can’t be extraterrestrials’ while the deep state grins.


For as long as humans have claimed they’ve seen UFOs—and it’s been a long, long time—the established scientific community has more or less considered them to be nonsense. While that hasn’t changed much, even as we’re in the midst of a modern ufological renaissance, some renegade scientists are fighting to bring academic rigor to UFO research.

Take Richard Hoffman, a 25-year information technology expert on contract with the U.S. Army’s Material Command at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. As a Senior Lead Architect, he keeps the Army’s digital infrastructure running and safe from attack.

             Richard Hoffman

He’s also a UFO researcher.

“The scientific community still has to deal with the decades of stigma associated with what they see as pseudoscience or fringe science,” Hoffman tells Popular Mechanics. “Many scientists do have interests in the phenomena, but are most often discouraged by others to embrace it so they hide it.”

Hoffman is one of three board members who run a nonprofit scientific organization known as the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU). Unknown or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) is the current rebranding of unidentified flying objects (UFO), a term that many believe to carry too much cultural baggage.

                        Robert Powell

“There are very few UFO organizations remaining today,” Hoffman says. “Of the few that do remain, they each have their unique contributions to the phenomena, but most are in data collection roles versus long term scientific study of cases.”

The difference with the SCU—and it’s a big one—is that it collects data that can be analyzed and studied by scientific experts, subsequently generating peer-reviewed papers published in journals and on websites, says Hoffman. The SCU doesn’t collect day-to-day UAP sighting reports, but rather, digs into the more complex cases where multiple sensory data like radar tracks and video may exist.


An Objective of Legitimacy

The SCU played a significant role in studying the Nimitz UFO Encounter, when it released a nearly 300-page report on the incident. The requisite refresher: Two year ago, the New York Times posted a story about Navy pilots who intercepted a strange object off the coast of San Diego in November 2004 and captured video of the object with their F-18’s gun camera.

Earlier this month, Popular Mechanics published a story about several other military personnel who also witnessed the Nimitz encounter on their radar systems and over their ship’s video system.

The SCU paper examined the available public data and testimony available regarding the case and concluded that the “results suggest that given the available information, the AAV’s capabilities are beyond any known technology.”

To be clear, the SCU hasn’t concluded that some non-human intelligence is responsible. Fully aware of the significant gaps in data, the organization has suggested that “the public release of all Navy records associated with this incident to enable a full, scientific and open investigation is strongly recommended.”



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The Navy Admits Something Weird Has Been Going On in the Skies

by Keith Kloor                  April 30, 2019                   (slate.com)

• In December 2017, the New York Times and Politico reported that the Navy’s USS Nimitz battle group encountered a ‘Tic Tac’ UFO off of the coast of San Diego in November 2004. They included video of the incident, followed by video of two other UFO encounters off of the coasts of Florida and Virginia. The Pentagon remained quiet about these incidents. (see NY Times article here)

• On April 23rd the Navy issued a statement to Politico admitting, “There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years.”

• While the Navy hasn’t gone so far as to admit to any alien-controlled craft, it has changed its guidelines so that sailors and aviators can make UFO reports to Navy authorities without fear of ridicule or reprisal. (see article on new Navy guidelines here)

• This development comes on the heels of a detailed paper that supports the accuracy of of the 2004 incident entitled: “A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven’s Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle.” The lead author, Robert Powell, mailed the analysis to various congressional committees, intelligence agencies, and branches of the military several months ago.

• The paper reveals that in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 ‘Tic Tac’ incident, a video of the encounter was shared and viewed widely by members aboard the USS Princeton and Nimitz via an internal military email system. Within 12 hours of the incident, a helicopter carrying nonuniformed personnel landed on the USS Princeton (pictured above) and approached Petty Officer Voorhis, who was in charge of the ship’s Cooperative Engagement Capability system, and requested that he turn over all the ship’s radar data, electronic information, and data recordings. Voorhis asked for their ID and was refused. But the ship’s captain soon ordered Voorhis to relinquished all the information, which was stored on magnetic tapes.

• The tapes contained crucial data that would shed light on the mysterious Tic Tac–shaped object. Said Voorhis, “You could literally plot the entire course of the object, you could extract the densities, the speeds, the way it moved, the way it displaced the air, its radar cross-section, how much of the radar itself was reflected off its surface. I mean you could pretty much recreate the entire event with the CEC data.”

• Powell and his colleagues found a 2013 Facebook page for the Nimitz that contains a conversation about the 2004 incident among various shipmates who served together at the time. All those on duty that day recalled it vividly in their Facebook comments; many said they were still befuddled by what they saw and why the data mysteriously disappeared.

• In mid-March 2019, Powell and other authors of the Nimitz incident paper gave a detailed presentation at a conference in Huntsville, Alabama, called the Scientific Conference on Anomalous Aerospace Phenomena. The conference was organized by a group that calls itself the “Scientific Coalition for Ufology” and includes scientists from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The group says it endeavors to take a ‘cold-eyed’ approach to the UFO issue, examining only cases that have hard data and credible witnesses. “We’re looking to stay neutral and build a coalition of like-minded scientists,” says Rich Hoffman, who does information systems work for the U.S. military and was the lead organizer of the event.

• The event’s big draw was Luis Elizondo, a career military intelligence officer who had managed security for the Pentagon’s highly classified $22M Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Elizondo didn’t offer anything new or noteworthy about the UFO program he once led at the Pentagon, although he did say the “effort” was ongoing (and didn’t expire in 2012 as the Pentagon says). Elizondo told the audience that he had remained in close touch with his successor in the program “… who’s still at the Pentagon, who works this effort, very closely…. I don’t mean the past, but actively working this. So it definitely continues. It’s still going. That, too, will come out hopefully soon in a very official way.”

• Elizondo insists that “disclosure has occurred” and that UFOs “are real.” “You now have people at the highest levels of the United States government and international communities of their governments finally taking this (UFO phenomenon) serious, applying real resources, real talent, real expertise to look at this and finally figure out what this is.”

• In late 2018, Elizondo gave a presentation to European UFO buffs in Rome. He mentioned a famous 1952 incident when flying saucers were reported over Washington D.C. and showed a slide of the famous image of the UFOs flying over the US Capitol. Skeptics were quick to point out that this photo was a fake. “It was actually a still [image] from a CGI [computer generated image],” says John Greenewald of the Black Vault. Elizondo apologized for the error on his company’s Facebook page.

• Skeptics have also attacked Elizondo for facilitating the release in 2017 of several video clips of Navy encounters with UFOs, saying that these videos had not been declassified, even though these video clips had been on the internet since 2007. (George Knapp and his ‘I-Team’ have recently proven that the Pentagon did, in fact, authorize those videos’ release.) Online skeptics maintain that these videos only show some sort of classified missile, aircraft or drone.


On the afternoon of Nov. 14, 2004, two F/A-18 “Super Hornet” fighter jets were 30 minutes into a training drill off the coast of Southern California when they were redirected by a Naval radio operator to a “real world situation.” Earlier that day, the USS Nimitz nuclear aircraft carrier and the USS Princeton missile cruiser had detected more than a dozen unidentified objects on their radar screens—what the Navy then referred to as anomalous aircraft vehicles.

The F/A-18s were told by the Princeton’s captain to intercept the closest anomalous vehicle, which was located about 150 miles southwest of the San Diego coastline. When the pilots reached their coordinates, they spotted from an altitude of 20,000 feet a disturbance at the ocean’s surface. One of the pilots, commanding officer Dave Fravor, reported that he saw a white oval or “Tic Tac”–shaped object about 50 to 60 feet in size moving just above the churning water.

Fravor headed down for a closer look. What happened next was “like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he recounted in a 2017 New York Times article. The object accelerated so fast that it disappeared in a blink of an eye. A pilot in the other F/A-18 has subsequently described the episode similarly; he also says he watched as the object zipped around Fravor’s plane before it darted off in a flash.

Meanwhile, according to testimony from Petty Officer Gary Voorhis, who was stationed on the Princeton at the time of the episode, “At a certain point there ended up being multiple objects that we were tracking. That was towards the end of the encounter and they all generally zoomed around at ridiculous speeds, and angles, and trajectories and then eventually they all bugged out faster than our radars.”

Vague details of the incident first came to light several years ago, after the Times and other media outlets reported on it. No human-created military technology had such capabilities, the news stories suggested, so were the mysterious objects otherworldly or a mass delusion? The Pentagon wasn’t saying anything. But now, according to a statement issued on April 23 to Politico, the Navy admits, “There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years.”

Whoa. That was major news, as was the part about the U.S. military now pledging to update its guidelines so “reports of any such suspected [UFO] incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities.” Politico notes, “To be clear, the Navy isn’t endorsing the idea that its sailors have encountered alien spacecraft. But it is acknowledging there have been enough strange aerial sightings by credible and highly trained military personnel that they need to be recorded in the official record and studied—rather than dismissed as some kooky phenomena from the realm of science-fiction.”

This development comes on the heels of a detailed paper of the 2004 incident that was recently completed and made public by a group of researchers who aimed to demonstrate that the incident actually happened. Titled “A Forensic Analysis of Navy Carrier Strike Group Eleven’s Encounter with an Anomalous Aerial Vehicle,” the paper, which was not published in an academic journal, does not make any claims for the origins of the objects, though it should be stated that all the authors have a long-standing interest in the UFO topic. The lead author, Robert Powell, tells me that he mailed the analysis to various congressional committees, intelligence agencies, and branches of the military several months ago. Whatever the biases of Powell and his fellow authors, there is no denying the body of evidence they amassed via Freedom of Information Act requests and interviews with service personnel.



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The Most Credible UFO Sightings and Encounters in Modern History, According to Research

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: 
  1. 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
  1. 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  
  1. 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 
  2. 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
  1. 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 
  2. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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 
  2. 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 
  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 
  4. 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
  1. 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 
  2. 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 
  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
  1. Shag Harbour SightingShag 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 
  2. 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
  1. 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 
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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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