At last, it’s here again. July 2 is World UFO Day. It’s the heart and soul of this great nation, celebrated by one and all since 2001. As we prepare ourselves for the festivities, which are apparently limited to the Roswell 2012 Conference in Roswell, N.M., we decided to take a look into the most popular UFO sightings and encounters this world has ever known. As you crane your heads upward toward the sky tonight, think of these stories and ponder what could be out there beyond the stars.
Belgian UFO Wave, 1989/1990
This is truly one of the most baffling cases of UFO sightings, and it is still unsolved today, without even a possible explanation for what it could have been. Considered a “wave” because sightings lasted from November 29, 1989 to April 1990, each time the object was seen, it was described as a flat, low-flying triangular aircraft with lights underneath. The first sighting was witnessed by at least 30 different groups, including three separate groups consisting of police officers. Subsequent sightings occurred numerous times during the night and day for the next several months in and around Belgium, and even near the borders of the Netherlands and Germany.
The UFO was picked up by several radar systems around Belgium, and many attempts to intercept the craft were made by military F-16s to no avail. Any time they would lock onto their target, it would pick up speed and escape their range. The strange craft was even once reported to have dropped from 10,000 feet to 500 feet in a matter of five seconds. All attempts to take pictures of the ship by civilians failed, as the infrared lights on the ship caused photographs to be blurry at best. Finally in 1990, a good enough image was captured from a video taken of the ship, and that picture is now known internationally to represent this very bizarre event.
Yeni Kent Compound Sightings, 2008
The footage below, shot by security guard Yalcin Yalman from May to September of 2008 outside of the Yeni Kent Compound in Turkey, is apparently indisputable. Most of it was shot at night over the Sea of Marmara. While to the average Joe it may not look like much, according to International UFO researcher Haktan Akdogan of the Sirius UFO Space Science Research Centre in Turkey, “The images captured on film are expected to have a tremendous impact throughout the world and they are the most important UFO images ever caught on camera.” This is after he and his research team interviewed several people who claim to have witnessed the events firsthand and carefully combed through two and a half hours of the material frame by frame. Apparently, when zoomed, alien entities can even be distinctly seen inside some of the UFOs. But in all fairness to skeptics, this may truly be a matter of judging for yourself.
Barney and Betty Hill Abduction, 1961
On the way home from their vacation to Canada on September 19, Barney and Betty Hill noticed a light following them in the sky. Assuming it to be a plane, Barney stopped his car to grab his binoculars in order to get a closer look. The object was said by Barney to have red, amber and green flashing lights. When he realized this was no plane, he hopped back in his car and they headed toward home.
Once they arrived back in Portsmouth, N.H., they realized the trip had taken two hours longer than expected, yet they couldn’t account for the lost time. Within days, Betty began having nightmares of the two of them being taken aboard an alien spaceship and medically examined. So, the Hills then decided to file a UFO sighting report.
After several years of putting it off, at the behest of Barney, who was less of a believer in extraterrestrials, the Hills began sessions with a psychiatrist/neurologist named Benjamin Simon. After his preliminary diagnosis deeming the couple’s claims of alien abduction as “anxiety disorder,” Dr. Simon began administering regressive hypnosis to recover the memories of the missing two hours of the Hill’s trip back from Canada. Barney would eventually draw sketches of the alien ship that abducted them (and even of the aliens themselves), describing the alien ship as “a big pancake with rows of windows.” Betty’s experience on the spacecraft was recalled a bit differently, with the aliens having probed her with a needle “bigger than any needle [she’d] ever seen.” Dr. Simon eventually deemed that while he believed the Hills weren’t lying during their hypnosis sessions, he did not believe they were abducted. He blamed their stories on Betty’s dreams, which he believed were created by her to fill the void that was the missing two hours of their trip. This theory gains traction from the fact that Betty had recently read a book on UFOs prior to the couple’s vacation. As for Barney, Dr. Simon believed he had absorbed his wife’s dream stories as facts, also as a way to fill the gap of the missing two hours. However, this is still regarded as the first alien abduction story in the U.S., and the one to which all others are compared.
Shag Harbour Crash, 1967
Prior to 1967, Shag Harbor was nothing more than a small fishing village at the southern end of Nova Scotia. That all changed on the night of October 4, 1967, when a large, unidentified object crashed into the cold waters. Witnesses claimed to have seen four glowing orange lights in the sky prior to the crash. When many of the witnesses and even the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) went to investigate the crash site, they noticed that the object hadn’t sunk into the icy waters, but was floating about a half mile from the shoreline. As the RCMP, Coast Guard and local fisherman went out in their boats to investigate, the unidentified object submerged into the waters, leaving only a yellow foam in its wake. Fishermen said the foam was not sea foam, and was unlike anything they’d ever seen.
Subsequent examinations into the crash over the next several days turned up nothing, and the trail of the unidentified vessel went cold. However, in 1993, two investigators for MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), Chris Styles and Doug Ledger, used public records to track what became of the unidentified object after its submersion. It turns out that it had made its way roughly 25 miles to a U.S. military base called Government Point. There it sat underwater for more than three weeks, with a second UFO joining it after the first three days. While Navy vessels held position above, planning their next move, they detected a Russian submarine entering Canadian waters and several vessels were dispersed to investigate. As they did, the UFOs below made their move, outrunning the Navy to the Gulf of Maine before broaching the water’s surface and flying off into the distance, never to be heard from again.
Westall UFO Sighting, 1966
Just before noon on April 6, 1966 in Melbourne, Australia, roughly 200 students and staff members of Westall High School witnessed a phenomenon the likes of which no one had ever seen before. While the children and staff were at recess, they noticed a silver, saucer-shaped disc overhead. The general consensus was that it was about two to three times the size of a car. The object then flew to a nearby field and landed for roughly 20 minutes. Many of the children during this time had hopped the fence and ran toward the object to see what it was, but it took off at high speeds before anyone could reach it. It was also reported by more than 100 of the witnesses that five aircrafts were seen in pursuit of the UFO after it took off. The unidentified vessel left a circle of flattened, dead grass where it had landed.
The more interesting part of this story is the cover-up that followed. Supposedly, the police and RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) arrived at the school shortly after the incident to talk to several of the adults and the head master, who then held an assembly for all students to tell them that what they had seen was not extraterrestrial and that they needed to keep quiet about it. Some reports even mention teachers and staff being approached by men in dark blue suits, being told/warned not to speak of what they’d seen under penalty of the Official Secrets Act. However, since so many people witnessed the events of this day, it is hard to keep track of which stories are real, and which are fabrication.
Levelland UFO Encounters, 1957
In one of the most well-documented cases of UFO encounters, Patrolman A.J. Fowler received 15 different frantic phone calls regarding UFOs that stopped car engines dead in and around the Levelland, Texas area on the night of November 2, 1957. The first call was brushed off as nonsense, as Pedro Saucedo and friend Joe Salaz called in a report of a well lit, cigar-shaped UFO flying over Pedro’s truck, knocking out the power to his engine until the object disappeared out of sight. Four more calls came in succession to Saucedo’s, concerning an object sitting in the road that also killed motorists’ engines before flying off into the sky, after which the vehicles would start right back up. All in all, as mentioned, 15 reports were called in, several of which were from fellow officers having witnessed similar events.
Possible explanations were given for these encounters by the Air Force, including ball lightning and electrical storms, but ball lightning neither lands in the middle of the road nor takes out car engines, and there were no reported electrical storms in the area. Also, whether or not it is a coincidence that the Soviet Union had just launched the Sputnik II spacecraft into orbit hours before these events is still, for lack of a better term, up in the air.
Captain Thomas Mantell UFO Death, 1948
Captain Thomas Mantell of the Kentucky Air National Guard is the first and only (known) pilot to ever lose his life in pursuit of a UFO. On January 7, 1948, Mantell and three other Guard fliers were investigating a large, circular object in the skies over Mansville after Kentucky State Police received several concerned phone calls from citizens on the matter. One individual on Mantell’s team requested leave from the mission, and the other two backed out once they hit higher altitudes. Mantell was alone in pursuit of the mysterious flying object when he presumably ran out of oxygen at around 30,00 feet, falling unconscious and crashing back down to Earth. The object he was chasing was never properly identified.
Washington D.C. UFO Incident, 1952
On the night of July 19, 1952, Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland began picking up blips of foreign objects in the sky above Washington, D.C. Unable to confirm exactly what they were looking at due to the objects’ erratic movements and sudden bursts of high speeds, F-94 planes were sent to investigate. However, every time the planes went out, the blips would disappear, only to reemerge once the planes had gone back to base. These objects were even seen by passengers on commercial airlines, looking like seven flashing lights in the sky.
The events continued until July 20, when things finally started to get back to normal. But then on July 26, the UFOs showed up again. Once more, the F-94s were sent to investigate the matter. This time, one pilot by the name of Lt. William Patterson was surrounded by the unknown aircrafts. Not knowing what to do, he asked if he should open fire, but before an answer could be given the unidentified objects disappeared once more, not to be seen again. Afterward, the Air Force held one of their biggest press conferences to date, where they tried to explain the UFOs as “temperature inversions,” which they said would give off the illusion of lights in the sky. But skeptics, and those who saw and even photographed the lights from the ground or from planes, have never bought into the Air Force’s explanation.
Lubbock Lights, 1951
Three Texas Technological College professors, Dr. W. I. Robinson, Dr. A. G. Oberg and Dr. W. L. Ducker, had congregated outside the home of Dr. Robinson on the eve of August 25, 1951 when they saw the unthinkable: flashing across the horizon in a matter of seconds were 20 to 30 noisy, bright lights in a crescent or V formation. All three professors were unsure of what they’d just seen, when a few minutes later, it happened again. The next day, they contacted Air Force personnel on the matter, who responded that there had been no air traffic the previous night. Dr. Ducker reported these sightings happening 12 more times from August to November, and he wasn’t alone. Many people in the general Lubbock area had seen the same lights during this time period. A student by the name of Carl Hart Jr. eventually caught the phenomenon on camera, and the photos were featured in a 1952 issue of “Life” magazine. In the photos, there also appears to be another singular bright light separate from the formation. Some believe this to be the “mothership.” To this day, the mystery of the lights has never been solved.
Tehran Incident, 1976
When the IIAF (Imperial Iranian Air Force) began receiving phone calls concerning a strange object in the skies over Tehran, the capital of Iran, on September 19, 1976, two F-4 Phantom II jet interceptors were dispatched to get a closer look and take military action if necessary. The object was described as cylindrical in shape, with lights on both ends. As the planes got closer to it, however, they started to experience instrumental and communication failure. One of the planes even suffered weapons failure as it prepared to open fire on a small, spherical object that had detached from the larger UFO and was headed straight for it. The pilot had to take a nosedive to evade the object, only to have it briefly chase after him before returning to the main ship. Yet, once both planes ended their pursuit and turned away, all system functions were regained. They could get no closer to the mysterious UFO than 27 miles without losing control of their planes.
This sighting is among one of the most well-documented military encounters with a UFO on record. The entire declassified U.S. DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) report was released under the Freedom of Information Act. It is four pages long. There have also been many senior officers of the Iranian military who were directly involved with the event that have gone on record saying that they believe the object they encountered that day was of extraterrestrial origins.
Sao Paulo UFO Sighting, 1986
UFOs are sighted often in Brazil. This particular incident is the largest scale of those sightings. Up to 20 UFOs were discovered by ground radar systems in the skies above Sao Paulo during the course of the day on May 19, 1986. Two F-5E and three Mirage jet fighters were sent from Santa Cruz Air Force Base in Sao Paulo State and Anapolis Air Force Base in Goias State to intercept the targets, but every time they were sent out, the unidentified objects would disappear. The only logical explanation behind this event, according to British space researcher Geoffrey Perry, is that these blips on the radar were actually debris of Soviet space station Salyut-7 reentering Earth’s atmosphere at the time of the event. However, any firm believer in the extraterrestrial would likely not buy into such a simple conclusion.
Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting, 1947
Although it doesn’t sound all that special, this would go down in history as the first widespread UFO sighting in U.S. history. On June 24, 1947, former World War II pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying himself home from a business trip in Wyoming when he received a radio transmission concerning a missing troop transport in the Yakima, Wash. area. He agreed to help the search party look for it. Around 3 p.m., as he was flying over Mount Rainier in the Cascade Mountains, he noticed a series of flashes in his eyes. Looking around, he ruled out other aircrafts, as there was only one other plane, a DC-4, in his general vicinity. He then noticed a group of nine disc-shaped objects flying in formation in the distance. He carefully made sure he wasn’t seeing things by taking off his glasses and bobbing his plane to be sure it wasn’t a reflection in his windows or mirror. He also ruled out geese, as he estimated these objects to be flying at roughly 1,200 miles per hour. In his opinion, the strangest aspect of these unidentified objects was their lack of a tail.
The objects faded into the distance, but not from memory, as Arnold eventually filed a full written report of the incident to the AAF (Army Air Forces), complete with illustrations of the mystery UFOs. His report caught on like wildfire across the U.S., prompting many others to follow suit. The term “flying saucer” was coined by the papers after Arnold made comments concerning how these objects flew like “a saucer if you skip it across water.” He also compared them to pie plates, so thank God “flying saucer” is the one that stuck. It is also believed that the acronym UFO (unidentified flying object) was created by the Air Force partially in response to this discovery.
Battle of Los Angeles, 1942
On the night of February 24, 1942, only three months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a mysterious giant object appeared hovering in the skies above Los Angeles. Believing the ship to be another attack on U.S. soil, an anti-aircraft military attack was ordered on the UFO. Sirens were eventually sounded throughout LA. When hundreds of spectators came out of their homes in the early morning hours on February 25, they began seeing the large aircraft above the city and the battle that was ensuing. Those in the Culver City and Santa Monica areas of greater Los Angeles made the first confirmed sightings of the ship.
The battle waged on, with the unknown aircraft taking direct hit after direct hit, but with no damage. Spotlights from the attacking planes lit up the sky as shells from the weapons being fired fell to the earth. Then, around 7:20 a.m., there was silence. Newspapers reported on the incident, which the Navy ultimately described as a “false alarm.” It was never disclosed what the strange object was that hovered above the clouds, as the current WWII was occupying most of the public interest. But looking back, this could technically be America’s first major encounter with a world beyond our own.
Roswell Incident, New Mexico, 1947
This is easily the most well-known UFO encounter to take place in all of history to date. Most certainly spurred from the reported discovery of UFOs by Kenneth Arnold that same year, the UFO crash in Roswell peaked the international interest and is still highly debated today. It would be nearly impossible to cover all the speculation, eyewitness accounts and conspiracy theories of what really happened, but that is exactly why the incident is so famous. The way the government tried to cover up the event is what has sparked so much debate over the years.
The true facts of the story are as follows: In early July, 1947, a sheep rancher named William Brazel heard a loud explosion or crash during a thunderstorm. The next day, he stumbled upon a giant pile of wreckage that he couldn’t make heads or tails of. He took a piece of the debris to his local sheriff who, also confused by what he was seeing, contacted Major Jesse A. Marcel of the RAAF (Roswell Army Air Field) to have a look at the wreckage.
Once Major Marcel saw the wreckage and determined it not to be that of a plane, missile, weather-tracking device or anything else feasible, the order was given (perhaps prematurely) to alert the media that they’d stumbled upon the wreckage of a crashed saucer. This, of course, sent the public into a tizzy, with headlines such as “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region“ making waves throughout the world, but especially here in the U.S.
Of course, once the government retracted these statements and deemed the wreckage that of a weather balloon, things got messy. This is where all the conspiracy theories of alien bodies and autopsies come into play. The fact that the government quickly dispersed of all debris and remnants of the wreckage and they were never seen again has only added fuel to the speculation fire, and is the main reason why the Roswell case may never be fully understood or believed.
Next: Unbelievably Hilarious Photos
Clyde Tombaugh UFO Sightings, 1949
Even a revered astronomer such as Clyde Tombaugh, who is the man responsible for discovering Pluto, has had his run-ins with the unexplainable. On August 20, 1949, two years after the Roswell incident, Tombaugh went on record as saying that he saw six to eight yellowish-green, window-like rectangles of light in the skies above Las Cruces, N.M. He also witnessed mysterious green fireballs in the skies of New Mexico from 1948 to 1950. In 1956, he had this to say about his various sightings:
“I have seen three objects in the last seven years which defied any explanation of known phenomenon, such as Venus, atmospheric optic, meteors or planes. I am a professional, highly skilled astronomer. In addition, I have seen three green fireballs which were unusual in behavior from normal green fireballs. I think that several reputable scientists are being unscientific in refusing to entertain the possibility of extraterrestrial origin and nature.”