The unidentified flying objects look like white Tic Tacs, or spinning tops flying against the wind — and Navy pilots keep reporting their presence over U.S. airspace. In interviews with the New York Times, five more pilots have come forward describing their experiences with UFOs flying off the Eastern seaboard from Virginia to Florida between 2014 and 2015.
One ten-year veteran, Lieutenant Ryan Graves, claimed that he saw UFOs almost daily, and that the objects could reach hypersonic speeds and heights of up to 30,000 feet without any visible engine or plumes of infrared exhaust. Graves, who reported his experience to the Pentagon and Congress, said, “These things would be out there all day,” and that, “with the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
In late 2014, a pilot of a Super Hornet reported a near-collision with a UFO when an object that looked like a “sphere encasing a cube” zipped between two fighter jets flying roughly 100 feet from each other. Another pilot, Lieutenant Danny Accoin, could identify a flying object’s presence on his radar, missile system, and infrared camera but was not able to actually see it in his helmet camera. “I knew I had it, I knew it was not a false hit,” Accoin said. But still, “I could not pick it up visually.”
As the Times reports, pilot sightings of UFOs have increased since “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.”
What fascinated Lieutenant Graves about his interactions with the objects was their ability to stop rapidly, turn instantly, and immediately accelerate to hypersonic speed — maneuvers that would burden human pilots with unbearable G-forces. “Speed doesn’t kill you,” Graves said. “Stopping does. Or acceleration.”
Because the sightings occurred in airspace designated for fighter-jet training, the pilots concurred that the objects were not classified or commercial drones operating in the area. Still, none of the five — nor the Defense Department — would speculate as to the objects’ extraterrestrial nature. “We’re here to do a job, with excellence, not make up myths,” said Accoin.
The past few years have been something of a quiet golden age for UFO enthusiasts hoping to prove the validity of their interests. First, there was the Pentagon’s 2017 admission of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a short-lived, $22 million scrap of the Defense budget that would investigate reports of “unexplained aerial phenomena.” Then, in November 2018, scientists from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics proposed a long-shot hypothesis about the cigar-shaped object Oumuamua, which passed through the solar system in 2017: It was a “solar sail,” gathering energy from the sun to accelerate through our galaxial neighborhood. (The technology isn’t all that complicated; humans have already developed it.)
And in April, the Navy announced it is “updating and formalizing the process” by which pilots report UFO sightings, as a means to destigmatize the sharing of information and treat the reports with a more data-driven approach. Luis Elizondo, a former senior intelligence officer, told the Washington Post that it was “the single greatest decision the Navy has made in decades.”
At this rate, the president’s Space Force might actually have something to do.