David Marks
David Marks

Identifying Aerial Phenomena

The minimal and inconclusive US Government report on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena has not enlightened us about the nature of UFOs.

The combined intelligence and military branches of the United States, after decades of obfuscating data and denying the existence of UFOs, on June 25th, 2021, summarized their knowledge of the topic: The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP. 

After analyzing 144 incidents, a dramatic statement holds the core message of the report: We were able to identify one reported UAP with high confidence. In that case, we identified the object as a large, deflating balloon. The others remain unexplained.

Our knowledge has not been increased, although this may finally be an honest confession. A deflating balloon symbolizes the entire effort. If any government has elucidated anything about the subject, their findings remain a secret.

However, news of the report and coverage of recently revealed US Navy pilots’ sightings have already influenced one aspect of this mystery. Unimpeachable eyewitnesses, who have had a lot to lose by being honest about what they’ve seen, are less likely to be derided or dismissed.

Despite minimal and disparaging press coverage over many years, a huge proportion of people on Earth would like to know more about this phenomenon. A Gallup poll in 2019 indicated that one-third of all Americans believe that UFOs are from somewhere off-planet. And a recent Pew Research poll found that 65% of the U.S. population believe that there is intelligent life on other planets. Figures for other countries are likely to be similar, yet the press lags behind.

Most of the media have been reluctant and cautious in covering the report. No one knows what the flying objects observed by military pilots are, so the press has relied on the skeptics to explain them as camera glitches or visual anomalies, rather than risking an open-minded editorial approach. 

Despite the self-assuredness of those with an unalterable position on the topic, a growing number of people are unwilling to believe the mundane explanations. And some scientists are calling for more serious inquiry. 

The general shift towards open consideration of unidentified aerial phenomena gives some freedom for those with personal experience to share their perspective on the topic. 

Sighting of a Very Fast Disc

Over fifty years ago, I observed a spectacular accelerating disc-shaped object. The memory is still vivid and no less extraordinary; it remains unexplainable within commonly accepted norms of activity on Earth. It does give me some reference to the first-person testimony of other witnesses.

And beyond the description of glowing shapes of triangles, cigars, tic tacs, or discs, it is the swiftness of these objects that has startled many observers. For those who have had sightings of moving UFOs, including seasoned pilots, it is their speed and agility that gives us an unforgettable impression. 

I’ve come to believe that the velocity of reported sightings should have greater attention; it seems to be a reasonable starting point in an attempt to identify what we have seen. And speeding objects have always captured my imagination.

My childhood home was under the primary flight pattern of an active military airbase and I had a passion for identifying aircraft of various sizes and shapes. My dad sometimes called me eagle eye, as I could see small things in the sky and on land from very far away. As a devotee of the emerging space age, I hoped to attend the US Air Force Academy and eventually become an astronaut.

At the age of fourteen, on a warm evening at dusk, a friend and I were sitting by a small lake in the Catskill Mountains, north of New York City. We were healthy, athletic, clear-headed teens on a break after dinner at a rural summer camp. We had never discussed nor heard of UFOs; they were beyond our imagination.

The lake was no more than a quarter-mile wide. Across the water, there were rolling hills to the west. The sun had just set, and the clear August sky was still a bright blue. 

Something approaching us caught our attention. It was flying over the hills, about halfway to the horizon.

Watching in wonder, a disc-shaped object, at about a thousand feet above the terrain, high enough to catch the last direct light of the sun, slowly, without a sound, headed in our direction. 

The disc approached the airspace just beyond the far side of the lake. It had an unmistakable round metallic form perhaps thirty feet in diameter, with a flat underside and a curved top. 

Still completely silent, exhibiting no means of propulsion, and without stopping, it accelerated away at ninety degrees, disappearing within a second. It was faster than anything I had ever seen before, or since.

The entire sighting was profoundly moving, but it was the disc’s impossible turn and dramatic departure that bolted us to our feet. Feeling a mixture of exhilaration and fear, we ran from the lake; we had to let someone know about the disc.

Out of breath at the top of a hill, with hearts pounding, we suddenly stopped and expressed the same thoughts. Who would understand? No one would believe us. 

We shook hands and agreed to never forget that incredible sight.

Understanding the Impossible

Although this sighting eventually opened up my imagination, I initially attempted to encapsulate the encounter within the limits of my young mind. I had a repeating dream where a similar object approached in the sky until a mundane news headline appeared on its edge, assuring my psyche of its Earthly provenance. For the most part, the memory was repressed.

For over a decade, I rarely considered the incident. It was after seeing a book with photographs of some similar discs that I recalled that summer evening. 

I read about UFOs and the various theories about what they were. Attempts to explain them as meteors, solar flares, balloons, or pranks were laughable, considering the details of my sighting.

Most press coverage, outside of the tabloids, explained away UFOs within the boundaries of contemporary science or would mock people who dared to describe a sighting. I was consequently guarded about who I shared my story with; the taboo on mentioning the topic in serious conversation seemed as strange as the phenomenon itself.

The general inability to even consider that these ships are extraterrestrial is fascinating. It does conform to the ideas presented by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Our world view is resistant to change; new paradigms are required for breakthroughs and discoveries.

This stems from the reluctance to perceive or process anything new without reference to what is already known. Scientific method emerged from this sound impulse; the development of new ideas usually relies on foundational knowledge. 

We have seen the limitations of this approach, as news of the government report leaked and with its final inconsequential release. The majority of scientists and journalists, commenting or reporting on the issue, eagerly insisted there is no proof of anything, and that it would be impossible for UFOs to be extraterrestrial in origin. 

Proponents of this conventional wisdom have been confidently assuring us that even if there is alien life, enormous interstellar distances will never be traversed by any beings because of the limits on speed and the amount of energy required. 

Unreasonable over-confidence that we have attained supreme knowledge of all manifestations of energy, ends discussion of the topic before it begins. This skepticism about UFOs emanates not from knowledgeable consideration, rather from overt geocentric narcissism and a fearful need for stability.

Rather than dread the unknown, it is important to consider where we are in understanding the primal forces of the universe and where that knowledge is leading us. 

Our grasp of wave energy, including light and gravity has grown in the last one hundred years. But we are only at the beginning of comprehending fundamental universal forces with relatively primitive tools and references.

All of our faith in data of the scientific realm, from the sub-atomic to the astronomic, is built on observations that we define and evaluate within the electromagnetic spectrum. Much of this data is directly applicable to practical use. Yet the dogmatic insistence that this range of energy is all that exists, has diminished our ability to more deeply understand both our planet and the stars. 

Considering the history of scientific development and very recent discoveries, it is likely that this limitation of perception will be deemed naive in the not too distant future. 

Small particles and waves have been observed behaving in a manner that defies known functional models, suggesting we have more to learn about the very nature of reality. Concepts that not long ago were completely speculative, including quantum entanglement, wormholes, extra dimensions, and travel beyond the speed of light are the subject of experimentation and serious discussion among an increasing number of dedicated scientists. 

We certainly have the ability to reach a greater understanding of our world, leading to possible contact with other sentient life in the universe. Human progress is predicated on our willingness to re-evaluate and go beyond self-imposed barriers. 

Velocity is the Message

If spacecraft from our Milky Way or more distant galaxies are visiting, they would need a means to traverse millions of light-years to get here. Although currently, we don’t understand how they might do that, learning to observe their navigation within our atmosphere is possible.

If for a moment, we posit that interstellar ships have arrived and are moving about our planet, such super high-tech aircraft would be able to travel so fast that most of the time we would not even see them. 

That we rarely catch a glimpse of the objects suggests that they are somehow cloaked, perhaps with exceptional hypervelocity. The meager information gathered to date supports this simplistic, yet profound evaluation of the enigma.

Extrapolating from video footage in a second indirect encounter with these phenomena, I’ve developed a hypothesis that they are unidentified because of their unparalleled speed.

A few years ago, I was filming some exteriors for a documentary, In The Cobbler’s Shoes, that included wide shots of the sky. Editing the raw footage a few weeks later, I noticed something that seemed to blur across the monitor. Slowing down the material substantially and looking at individual frames, there was what appeared to be a flying object. Although none were particularly clear, similar images sped through other shots and were compiled in a short assembly (View UFO video by clicking here). 

With reference to some known locations in the footage, distances of various flying objects were estimated at one to four miles away from the camera. In one shot, an object crossing a five-mile-wide view within the frame was calculated to be traveling at about 18,000 miles per hour. Although the International Space Station is circumnavigating Earth at a similar speed, nothing within a few miles of the planet’s surface is known to travel that fast while defying know restraints of motion and gravity.

A 2019 published scientific report on the Unidentified Aerial Vehicles in the 2004 Nimitz Encounter came to a similar conclusion. Although the incident itself was widely covered, this rarely cited analysis of that event and the documentary footage I’ve described, both raise the same key issue.

It seems that generally, these silent objects are invisible to the naked eye and not noticeable when seen on-screen at standard frame rates. It could mean that the sightings we know about only represent a tiny fraction of the activity in the sky above the Earth. 

It does not require much ingenuity to begin observing and analyzing these objects. If the will to find the phenomena is applied, then it’s a matter of using appropriate techniques to understand them better.

Identification

If the technology of these apparent visitors greatly surpasses ours, most of their actions are very likely evolved and intentional. Yet we can only speculate about the intent and methodologies of an undetected alien culture visiting Earth. Are they stealthily speeding around us, in expectation of increased enthusiasm to perceive them?

US Navy pilots could not identify or steadily track flying objects, thus they are described as evasive. Interestingly, the most detailed and provocative sightings have been by non-military observers. 

The clearest images and reports over the last seventy-four years haven’t changed the status of sightings beyond a mystery. 

New attitudes in science and media would support the growing interest of the public in these aerial phenomena. Independent, unbiased, and candid research is required if we want to know more. That effort can start by examining their staggering pace, as it makes them virtually invisible.

Once we can see them clearly, we might begin to understand why they are here.

About the Author
David is a philosopher, filmmaker and writer whose focus is making a better world. He has produced a number of investigative films for both the BBC and PBS, including Nazi Gold, dispelling the myth that Switzerland was neutral in WWII. Information about his recent book, The Way, an interpretation of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient treatise about humanity's place in nature, is available at LaoTzu-TheWay.org.
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