News & Politics

What's Going on Up There? '60 Minutes' Story on Navy UFO Sightings Raises Expectations for Release of Pentagon Report

UFO sighting (U.S. Navy video)

The CBS News program 60 Minutes featured a report on regular sightings of unidentified aerial objects (UAPs) by Navy pilots flying off the coast of Virginia. According to one Navy pilot, Ryan Graves, the objects were seen almost every day for several years and exhibited otherworldly characteristics in flight.

“This is a difficult one to explain. You have rotation, you have high altitudes. You have propulsion, right? I don’t know. I don’t know what it is, frankly,” remarked Graves.

Louis Elizondo says he headed up the modern version of “Project Blue Book” at the Pentagon. The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, or “AATIP,” came into being following a 2004 encounter between Navy planes from the USS Nimitz and several objects resembling “Tic Tac” mints. It was the brainchild of former Nevada Senator Harry Reid and functioned as a clearinghouse for Navy sightings. Later, the program was tasked with investigating the phenomenon. The AATIP has since been replaced by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force.

There is no proof Elizondo ever worked in the government, which has made his claims suspect. But the UAP Task Force is real and working diligently on getting answers.

The investigation will culminate in a much-anticipated report to be released to the Senate next month. But UFO skeptics have been going through a lot of the evidence and discount the alien aircraft theories.

Skeptical Magazine:

In fact, the only thing the Pentagon has admitted is that the videos are “real,” in that they were taken by US Navy personnel (and not, therefore, fake CGI-generated videos or whatever), and that they were included in studies by the UAP task force, meaning they were at least unidentified at one point.

We are then shown two other videos. “FLIR1” is claimed to show physics-defying acceleration, but careful study has shown that the supposed sudden moves are actually the result of the camera moving or changing mode. “GIMBAL” shows an impressive looking flying saucer, but again the reality seems more mundane—an infrared glare of a distant plane and a rotating gimbal mechanism explain both the rotating saucer shape, and why it was named “gimbal” in the first place.

“Careful study” by whom? What does the study say exactly? And while the GIMBAL explanation sounds reasonable, it appears to be a matter of opinion — not scientific fact.

Skeptics can be accused of many of the sins committed by UFO enthusiasts.

Elizondo has a different take on the videos.

“We’re going through our due diligence. Is it some sort of new type of cruise missile technology that China has developed? Is it some sort of high-altitude balloon that’s conducting reconnaissance?” he said. “Ultimately when you have exhausted all those what-ifs and you’re still left with the fact that this is in our airspace and it’s real, that’s when it becomes compelling, and that’s when it becomes problematic.”

The problem is that the Pentagon has to see these objects as a threat. If they’re not from another planet, they are almost certainly from Russia or China, giving their aircraft a decided advantage over our most advanced fighters.

Pilot Graves knows what he saw and is a little worried.

“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. 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.”

The report next month is not likely to contain any bombshell videos or other evidence of extraterrestrial visitation, but it at least may allow us to begin asking better questions about what the hell is up there?