“E17 Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?”
by Adam Janos June 23, 2019 (history.com)
• Former high-ranking US defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with ‘To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science’ are asking: ‘why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?’ Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”
• In the past century, more than a few UFO sightings have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called the bright orange UFOs flying along the French-German border “foo fighters”. During the Korean War, soldiers claimed that a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with radiation poisoning.
• In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UFOs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites of the past to active nuclear naval fleets in the present. “All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” said investigative journalist George Knapp.
• “There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of the Pentagon UFO study program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
• Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book: UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites, says that ‘Nuclear-adjacent’ sightings go back decades. Witnesses to these incidents are often highly trained personnel with top security clearances. In recent years, their reports are being corroborated by sophisticated technology.
• In late 1948, “green fireballs” were reported in the skies near atomic laboratories in Los Alamos and Sandia, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was first developed and tested. A declassified FBI document from 1950 mentions “flying saucers” measuring almost 50 feet in diameter near the Los Alamos labs. Over a dozen workers from the Nevada desert atomic test site told Knapp that UFO activity was commonplace.
• In the 1960s and ’70s, repeated UFO sightings emerged at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, a storage site for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. At one such sighting in 1967, former Air Force Capt. Robert Salas reported several of those missiles becoming inoperative, or “unlaunchable”, at the same time that base security reported seeing a glowing red object, about 30 feet in diameter, hovering over the facility.
• In December 1980, the US Air Force secretly housed nuclear weapons in 25 fortified bunkers beneath the Royal Air Force base at Bentwaters in Suffolk, England. USAF master sergeant Ivan Barker saw an object on radar having remarkable speed and maneuverability, covering 120 miles in a matter of seconds. He looked out of the window and saw a craft hovering over a water tower. “It was between about 1,500 and 2,000 feet high. The thing was…at least a city block…in diameter,” said Barker. Barker says it was shaped like a giant basketball, with portholes around the center, from which lights were emanating outward. “I was shocked… There was nothing aerodynamic about it. Basketballs don’t fly.” Then in a second it was gone. But Barker didn’t report the sighting to his superiors. “You don’t understand what the Air Force did to people who reported UFOs,” he said.
• Colonel Charles Halt was the deputy commander at RAF Bentwaters that night. Halt led a patrol to investigate the strange colorful lights seen descending into the nearby Rendlesham Forest. He saw a red light moving horizontally though the trees, “obviously under some kind of intelligent control.” A laser-like beam, he said, “landed 10-15 feet away from us. I was literally in shock.” Then the object flew north towards the base. Says Halt, “We could hear chatter on the radios that the beams went down into the weapons storage area.” The Air Force generals closed the case without investigation.
• In recent years, the US Navy has reported several UFO encounters off of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Navy F-18 fighter pilots saw UFOs almost daily for several months between the summer of 2014 and the spring of 2015 along the Eastern seaboard between Virginia and Florida. “Wherever we were, they were there,” said Ryan Graves, an F-18 fighter pilot who holds a degree in aerospace engineering. The objects appeared in three shapes, Graves says—some were discs, others looked like a cube inside a sphere, while smaller round objects flew together in formation. All lacked visible engines or exhaust systems. Some tilted, mid-flight, like spinning tops, as seen in cockpit video. One UFO almost caused a collision by zipping dangerously between two jets. Graves said that the UFOs also appeared in the Persian Gulf.
• In November 2004, Navy pilots and radar operators from the USS Nimitz carrier fleet saw a 40-foot long tic-tac shaped object flying just above the ocean, 100 miles off the coast of California near San Diego. When F-18 fighter jets were scrambled to approach the object, it accelerated and easily outran the supersonic Navy craft.
• Chris Mellon, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence said that a carrier battle group being shadowed by UFOs all the way across the Atlantic to the Middle East “makes an extremely compelling case for the existence of technologies we didn’t think were possible.”
• There is an increasing openness in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill to taking these sightings seriously as potential threats. In April 2019, the US Navy announced that it was updating its guidelines for how pilots and personnel should report unexplained aerial phenomena—making it easier for military members to report sightings to superiors without facing stigma and backlash. And now Congress has taken more interest in these UFO briefings.
• George Knapp says there is more UFO activity now than he has seen in three decades. Knapp notes that personnel at the military facilities, bases, ships and submarines where nuclear weapons are built, tested and deployed “have seen these things”. “Are they all crazy?”
Why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?
Those are questions being asked by a team of high-ranking former U.S. defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The team has been investigating a wide range of these sightings—and advocating more serious government attention.
Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”
Throughout history, unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) have shocked, frightened and fascinated sky watchers. And in the last century, more than a few have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called them “foo fighters”: strange orange flying lights by the French-German border. During the Korean War, some soldiers claimed a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with what, to some, resembled radiation poisoning.
Less known: In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UAPs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites to active nuclear naval fleets.
“All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” says investigative journalist George Knapp, who has studied the UAP-nuclear connection for more than 30 years. Knapp has gathered documentation by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the departments of defense and energy.
“There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of a covert team of UAP researchers operating inside the Department of Defense. The program, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), received $22 million of the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget in 2012, The New York Times reported. Elizondo now helps lead To the Stars’ investigations.
The UFO-nuclear Connection Began at the Dawn of the Atomic Age.
Nuclear-adjacent sightings go back decades, says Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings says he’s interviewed more than 160 veterans who have witnessed strange things in the skies around nuclear sites.
“You have objects being tracked on radar performing at speeds that no object on earth can perform,” Hastings says. “You have eyewitness [military] personnel. You have jet pilots.” Witnesses to these incidents are often highly trained personnel with top security clearances. In recent years, their reports are being corroborated by sophisticated technology.
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