A professor of physics, Kevin Knuth, formerly a research scientist who worked for four years at NASA’s Ames Research Center, attended the 2002 NASA Contact Conference, which focused on serious speculation about extraterrestrials. During the meeting a concerned participant said loudly in a sinister tone, “We have absolutely no idea what is out there!” The silence that followed was palpable as the truth of this statement sunk in.
“These things would be out there all day,” said Lt. Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years, who reported sightings of strange objects high in the skies over the East Coast along with other Navy pilots of objects that had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
“While it is still reasonable and conservative to assume that life is most likely to have originated in conditions similar to ours, the vast time differences in potential evolutions render the likelihood of “matching” technologies very slim,” says Silvano P. Colombano at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
In a 2018 paper calling for a more aggressive search for advanced extraterrestrial life In light of our most recent understanding of the age of the planetary systems that might support life, NASA scientist Colombano, thinks we have missed alien life that’s not a carbon-based organism like Earth’s human species.
Colombano said there were certain aspects of UFO sightings that cannot be explained. In his paper published by SETI, he said there may be some signals we have missed when it comes to looking for UFOs.
“We should consider the UFO phenomenon worthy of study in the context of a system with very low signal to noise ratio, but nevertheless with the possibility of challenging some of our assumptions and pointing to new possibilities for communication and discovery.
“We should study UFO reports as a low signal to noise ratio phenomenon. Big Data Analysis could approach several existing data bases such as 130,000 pages of declassified U.S. Air Force documents, National UFO Reporting Center Database and several other international data bases.”
“In the very large amount of ‘noise’ in UFO reporting there may be ‘signals’, however small, that indicate some phenomena that cannot be explained or denied,” Colombano said. The arrival of a UFO could have been overlooked because of the unlikelihood of interstellar travel, he said but this is something he said aliens have mastered.
In late 2014, reports the New York Times, “a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were videotaped, including one taken by a plane’s camera in early 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.”
“Wow, what is that, man?” one exclaims. “Look at it fly!” One of the objects that appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015, high in the skies over the East Coast looked like a spinning top moving against the wind. Lieutenant Graves and four other Navy pilots, who said in interviews with The New York Times that they saw the objects in 2014 and 2015 in training maneuvers from Virginia to Florida off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. Navy pilots from the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” squadron aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in 2015 began noticing strange objects just after the Navy upgraded the radar systems on its F/A-18 fighter planes.
But the objects have gotten the attention of the Navy, which earlier this year sent out new classified guidance for how to report what the military calls unexplained aerial phenomena, or unidentified flying objects.
“There were a number of different reports,” said Joseph Gradisher, a Navy spokesman, about the update of instructions that went out to the fleet in 2015, after the Roosevelt incidents. Some cases could have been commercial drones, he told the New York Times, but in other cases “we don’t know who’s doing this, we don’t have enough data to track this. So the intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace.”
Pentagon’s Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP)
The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s hush-hush Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings “a striking series of incidents.”
“The phenomenon is indeed real,” Elizondo said just days after the 22-year Defense Department veteran had submitted a resignation letter to the Pentagon, citing its disregard of “overwhelming evidence” that unexplained phenomena have been interfering with the U.S. military.
On September 19, 2018, The Galaxy did a post “From the X-Files –“Is the Pentagon Hiding UFOs in a Las Vegas Hangar?” quoting Elizondo: “Disclosure has already occurred. Disclosure is not an event, it’s a process. My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), which began in 2007 was officially shut down in 2012 when the money dried up, according to the Pentagon. But the Navy recently said it currently investigates military reports of U.F.O.s, and Elizondo and other participants say the program — parts of it remain classified — has continued in other forms. The program has also studied video that shows a whitish oval object described as a giant Tic Tac, about the size of a commercial plane, encountered by two Navy fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.”
Lieutenant Graves still cannot explain what he saw, continues the Times: “In the summer of 2014, he and Lt. Danny Accoin, another Super Hornet pilot, were part of a squadron, the VFA-11 ‘Red Rippers’ out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., that was training for a deployment to the Persian Gulf.
“Lieutenants Graves and Accoin spoke on the record to The Times about the objects. Three other pilots in the squadron also spoke to The Times about the objects but declined to be named.
The NY Times Interviews with Key US Navy Participants
The interviews, quoted below, appeared in ‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Reported Unexplained Flying Objects.
“The pilots began noticing the objects after their 1980s-era radar was upgraded to a more advanced system. As one fighter jet after another got the new radar, pilots began picking up the objects, but ignoring what they thought were false radar tracks.”
“People have seen strange stuff in military aircraft for decades,” Lieutenant Graves said. “We’re doing this very complex mission, to go from 30,000 feet, diving down. It would be a pretty big deal to have something up there.”
“But he said the objects persisted, showing up at 30,000 feet, 20,000 feet, even sea level. They could accelerate, slow down and then hit hypersonic speeds. Lieutenant Accoin said he interacted twice with the objects. The first time, after picking up the object on his radar, he set his plane to merge with it, flying 1,000 feet below it. He said he should have been able to see it with his helmet camera, but could not, even though his radar told him it was there.
“A few days later, Lieutenant Accoin said a training missile on his jet locked on the object and his infrared camera picked it up as well. “I knew I had it, I knew it was not a false hit,” he said. But still, “I could not pick it up visually.”
“At this point the pilots said they speculated that the objects were part of some classified and extremely advanced drone program.
But then pilots began seeing the objects. In late 2014, Lieutenant Graves said he was back at base in Virginia Beach when he encountered a squadron mate just back from a mission “with a look of shock on his face.” He said he was stunned to hear the pilot’s words. “I almost hit one of those things,” the pilot told Lieutenant Graves.
The pilot and his wingman were flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach when something flew between them, right past the cockpit. It looked to the pilot, Lieutenant Graves said, like a sphere encasing a cube. The incident so spooked the squadron that an aviation flight safety report was filed, Lieutenant Graves said.
The near miss, he and other pilots interviewed said, angered the squadron, and convinced them that the objects were not part of a classified drone program. Government officials would know fighter pilots were training in the area, they reasoned, and would not send drones to get in the way.
“It turned from a potentially classified drone program to a safety issue,” Lieutenant Graves said. “It was going to be a matter of time before someone had a midair” collision.
What was strange, the pilots said, was that the video showed objects accelerating to hypersonic speed, making sudden stops and instantaneous turns — something beyond the physical limits of a human crew. “Speed doesn’t kill you,” Lieutenant Graves said. “Stopping does. Or acceleration.”
Asked what they thought the objects were, the pilots refused to speculate. “We have helicopters that can hover,” Lieutenant Graves said. “We have aircraft that can fly at 30,000 feet and right at the surface.” But “combine all that in one vehicle of some type with no jet engine, no exhaust plume.”
Lieutenant Accoin said only that “we’re here to do a job, with excellence, not make up myths.”
In March 2015 the Roosevelt left the coast of Florida and headed to the Persian Gulf as part of the American-led mission fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The same pilots who were interacting with the strange objects off the East Coast were soon doing bombing missions over Iraq and Syria. The incidents tapered off after they left the United States, the pilots said.
“Aliens Have Mastered Interstellar Travel”
“In the very large amount of ‘noise’ in UFO reporting there may be ‘signals’, however small, that indicate some phenomena that cannot be explained or denied,” Colombano said. The arrival of a UFO could have been overlooked because of the unlikelihood of interstellar travel, he said, but this is something he said aliens have mastered.
Columbia University astrophysicist, Caleb Scharf points out that Arthur C. Clarke suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology is going to be indistinguishable from magic. “If you dropped in on a bunch of Paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers,” Scharf says, “you’d undoubtedly seem pretty magical. But the contrast is only middling: The farmers would still recognize you as basically like them, and before long they’d be taking selfies. But what if life has moved so far on that it doesn’t just appear magical, but appears like physics?”
If the universe harbors other life, and if some of that life has evolved beyond our own waypoints of complexity and technology, Scharf proposes that we should be considering some very extreme possibilities.
Enter Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb who says that aliens are not science fiction: “I don’t see extraterrestrials as more speculative than dark matter or extra dimensions. I think it’s the other way around.”