For decades it seemed that only rural Americans and weirdos saw UFOs. That’s changed dramatically in recent years as more and more witnesses have stepped forward to describe their encounters with strange objects in the sky. Many of them are commercial pilots and former U.S. Navy pilots. This weekend 60 Minutes aired a segment interviewing several Navy pilots about their encounter with UFO, or unidentified aerial phenomenon. For UFO fans, the testimonials aren’t anything new but they do represent something important—our nation’s obsession with strange lights in the sky has gone mainstream and credible people are more than willing to talk about it.
The program opened on a conversation with Luis Elizondo, a 20 year military veteran who worked at the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP). At AATIP, Elizondo worked with scientists and other experts to try to figure out what the hell everyone is seeing in the sky. “Imagine a technology that can do 6 to 700 gforces, that can fly at 13,000 miles an hour, it can evade radar, that can fly through air, water, and possibly space, and has no obvious signs of propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces, and yet still can defy the natural effects of Earth’s gravity,” Elizondo said. “That’s exactly what we’re seeing.”
The lights in the sky aren’t necessarily aliens. There’s good reason to believe that the UFOs are tricks of the light or foreign drones. Former Navy pilot Lieutenant Ryan Graves witnessed several flying objects hovering in restricted airspace southeast of Virginia Beach in 2014. “I am worried, frankly. You know, if these were tactical jets from another country that were hangin' out up there, it would be a massive issue,” he said on 60 Minutes. “But because it looks slightly different, we're not willing to actually look at the problem in the face. We're happy to just ignore the fact that these are out there, watching us every day.”
In 2004, former U.S. Navy pilots Alex Dietrich and Dave Fravor witnessed the now infamous Tic Tac UFO while flying as part of the USS Nimitz carrier strike group. Dietrich is camera shy, but Fravor has been open about his UFO experience, including a lengthy interview on the Joe Rogan podcast in 2019 and an interview in The New York Times in 2017. “I don't know who's building it, who's got the technology, who's got the brains,” he said on 60 minutes. “But there's, there's something out there that was better than our airplane.”
The Pentagon has declassified a lot of information about UFOs in the past few years and has promised to release a report on the subject by June 1. The most recent spending bill that funds U.S. intelligence agencies included a provision requiring it to produce a report on UFOs. “There are a lot more sightings then have been made public,” former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said on Fox News in March.