Editor's take: A government report on data collected about unidentified aerial phenomena could be made public as early as next month. Details of the report aren't available yet but the scope of what could potentially be shared is wide-reaching. Are we dealing with some sort of advanced military technology, drone or spy plane from another country? Has someone figured out some sort of new, non-reactionary propulsion system that is truly beyond our current understanding of physics?
American news program 60 Minutes on Sunday aired a segment that takes a closer look at the topic of unidentified flying objects, or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) as they are now purportedly referred to as.
The segment opens with Luis Elizondo, who claims he was asked in 2008 to join a Pentagon program called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). The program's goal, according to Elizondo, was to collect and analyze information involving anomalous aerial vehicles. When he took over the unit in 2010, he focused on national security implications and reports from US service members.
"Imagine a technology that can do 6-to-700 g-forces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, that can evade radar and that can fly through air and water and possibly space. And oh, by the way, has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth's gravity. That's precisely what we're seeing." - Luis Elizondo
60 Minutes also spoke with former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves. He said his F/A-18F squadron started seeing UAPs over the airspace southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014 after their jets' radars were upgraded. Graves said pilots training off the Atlantic coast would see unusual stuff "every day, at least for a couple of years."
Graves said pilots believe it is one of three things: secret US technology, a spy vehicle from another country or something otherworldly.
Host Bill Whitaker also spoke with two naval aviators that claim to have encountered a UAP in 2004: David Fravor, who commanded the F/A-18F squadron on the USS Nimitz, and Lieutenant Alex Dietrich, who is talking about the encounter for the first time in public.
The incident in question reportedly took place in November 2004 after a nearby ship, the USS Princeton, had reported seeing "multiple anomalous aerial vehicles" on its new radar system that were able to descend 80,000 feet in less than a second. On November 14, Fravor and Dietrich, each with a weapons systems officer onboard, were sent out to investigate.
What they saw was an area of whitewater in what was described as an otherwise calm sea. Just above it was a Tac-Tac-shaped object about the size of an F/A-18F with no wings, no markings and no exhaust plume. As Dietrich circled above, Fravor went down for a closer look, and the object started climbing to meet him. When it got right in front of him, "it just disappears."
"Disappears. Like, gone," he said.
Impossibly enough, the USS Princeton was able to reacquire the target seconds later, 60 miles away. Another crew managed to lock onto what they believe was the same object briefly before it flew off again.
Once back on the ship, Dietrich told superiors about the encounter and the news spread like wildfire. Predictably, they became the butt of jokes. "They made cartoons. On the ship's TV, they played Men in Black and Independence Day and Signs," Dietrich said.
The New York Times is largely credited with bringing the topic to the forefront of mainstream media with its groundbreaking 2017 article on the matter. In 2020, the Department of Defense publicly released three videos (the ones from The Times), confirming they were authentic and that the contents observed in them remained unidentified.
Additional videos have leaked in recent months, which the Pentagon has confirmed were taken by Navy personnel.
The Senate Intelligence Committee requested a report on unidentified aerial phenomenon to be made public next month.
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