Three former US military officials told Congress that the government is hiding evidence of unidentified aerial phenomena or UAP—the new, more sober replacement for UFOs. What’s most surprising: the larger humanity’s seeming indifference to aliens in our midst:)
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Wait, the US Congress held a hearing about UFOs?
UAP. That’s what we call them now. And yes, the House Oversight subcommittee held its first public hearing as part of its investigation into the phenomenon. The five witnesses included three former military officials.
David Grusch: is a former intelligence official who led the Pentagon’s effort to study the phenomenon. He is a whistleblower whose previous revelations about "nonhuman biologics" retrieved by the military triggered the hearing.
Ryan Graves: is a former Navy fighter pilot who has spoken out about encountering UAP on training missions. He is also the executive director of the UAP-focused advocacy group Americans for Safe Aerospace.
David Fravor: is retired commander and also a former Navy pilot. He most famously was one of three pilots who spotted a UAP off the coast of San Diego in 2004—which was the subject of the ‘Tic Tac’ video (explained below).
Point to note: This isn’t the first such hearing. In 1966, the House Republicans looked at sightings in Michigan and other parts of the US. The next such hearing was held by the House Intelligence Committee in May 2022—sparked by a government report on UAP.
So everyone is taking UFOs, sorry UAPs, seriously now?
This is hardly the first time that respected sources have reported unexplained phenomena. Here’s a quick round up of such sightings in the past 70-odd years:
Project Blue Book: Between 1947 and 1969, the US Air Force catalogued 12,618 sightings of UFOs—including “lights, objects, and unexplained radar readings reported by military and civilian pilots, weather observers, astronomers and other sources.” But the project was shut down in 1969 after a University of Colorado study concluded: “Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge.”
Point to note: In 1985, the Air Force declared that “there are not now nor ever have been, any extraterrestrial visitors or equipment on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base”—where Project Blue Book had been headquartered.
The French jump in: In 1999, a dozen retired French generals, scientists, and space experts issued a 90-page report titled “Les OVNI et la Défense: À Quoi Doit-On Se Préparer?”—“U.F.O.s and Defense: For What Must We Prepare Ourselves?” Here’s what the group called COMETA said:
Objects observed at close range by military and commercial pilots seemed to defy the laws of physics; the authors noted their “easily supersonic speed with no sonic boom” and “electromagnetic effects that interfere with the operation of nearby radio or electrical apparatus.” The vast majority of the sightings could be traced to meteorological or earthly origins, or could not be studied, owing to paltry evidence, but a small percentage of them appeared to involve, as the report put it, “completely unknown flying machines with exceptional performances that are guided by a natural or artificial intelligence.” COMETA had resolved, through the process of elimination, that “the extraterrestrial hypothesis” was the most logical explanation.
Hitting ‘restart’: In the 1990s—led by the powerful Democratic senator Harry Reid—the Congress started taking UFOs seriously again. The Pentagon launched the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to investigate the latest round of sightings—but kept it tightly under wraps.
The big NYT scoop: The real turning point was the publication of a detailed New York Times investigation in 2017—which revealed the existence of the Pentagon program. The report showed that the military had carefully buried its $22 million budget to avoid public scrutiny. But the person who led the program—Luis Elizondo—finally quit in frustration due to internal opposition and lack of funding. He joined another former Defense official and ex CIA engineer to start the Stars Academy of Arts and Science—to seek private funding for UFO research.
Here is one of the Pentagon videos published as part of that investigation:
The 2021 report: The US government released a landmark report documenting 144 UAP incidents witnessed by military personnel over the past two decades. It was very cautious in its conclusions—saying there was no evidence of aliens. And it offered alternative explanations for the unexplained sightings—such as hypersonic technology developed by China or Russia. However, it also represented an official acknowledgement of astonishing events:
Some UAP appeared to remain stationary in winds aloft, move against the wind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernible means of propulsion,” the report found. “In a small number of cases, military aircraft systems processed radio frequency (RF) energy associated with UAP sightings.” Observers reported these unusual movements and “flight characteristics” in 18 separate incidents.
A year later, Pentagon officials testified at that congressional hearing and—most notably—insisted that they have not found wreckage material "that isn't consistent with being of terrestrial origin." That was called out as a lie by David Grusch yesterday.
Ok, what did these former military guys say?
Here are the key takeaways—some of which are explosive.
One: David Grusch said the Pentagon has recovered aircraft of ‘nonhuman origin’—and hidden it from Congress. In fact, there has been a UAP crash-retrieval and reverse-engineering program that has existed for decades. Grusch claimed that the effort is "above congressional oversight" and bankrolled by a "misappropriation of funds." According to Grusch, the military has also recovered "nonhuman biologics" from crashed UAPs.
Point to note: Grusch based his testimony on second-hand knowledge—gained from interviews of 40 witnesses over four years with direct knowledge of the secret program. And the Pentagon has flatly denied his claims—and continues to insist that it has “found no credible evidence of extraterrestrial activity.”
Two: Former fighter pilot Ryan Graves described encountering UAP while flying F18 fighter jets in Florida:
He described them as "dark grey or black cubes … inside of a clear sphere, where the apex or tips of the cubes were touching the inside of that sphere." He said a fellow pilot told him about one incident about 10 miles off the coast, in which an object between 5 and 15 feet in diameter flew between two F-18s and came within 50 feet of the aircraft. He said there was no acknowledgement of the incident or way to report the encounter at the time… "If everyone could see the sensor and video data I witnessed, our national conversation would change," Graves said.
Graves focused on the fact that UAP pose a serious safety risk to both military and commercial planes. There is no official mechanism via which these encounters can be reported by pilots—who are also silenced by the stigma associated with spotting UFOs.
Point to note: Unlike Grusch, he did not definitively claim these are alien spacecraft: “If UAP are foreign drones, it is an urgent national security problem. If it is something else, it is an issue for science.”
He told the subcommittee that he and another pilot spotted the smooth, seamless oval-shaped object hovering over the water before it rapidly climbed about 12,000 feet in the air. It then accelerated and disappeared. It was detected roughly 60 miles away less than a minute later. Fravor returned to an aircraft carrier and mentioned the object to other pilots who were getting ready to take off, and they managed to get it on video.
"I think what we experienced was, like I said, well beyond the material science and the capabilities that we had at the time, that we have currently or that we're going to have in the next 10 to 20 years," Fravor said.
And here’s the video they took:
Point to note: Even the Pentagon acknowledges that there is strong “visual” evidence of UAP. According to one former official:
[I]n the past two years, the Pentagon’s UAP investigators have distributed two classified intelligence papers, on secure networks, that allegedly contain images and videos of bizarre spectacles, including a cube-shaped object and a large equilateral triangle emerging from the ocean.
But, but, but, the same official also said:
‘Unidentified’ doesn’t mean little green men—it just means there’s something there. If it turns out that everything we’ve seen is weather balloons, or a quadcopter designed to look like something else, nobody is going to lose sleep over it.
The bottomline: After watching all those Hollywood flicks about first contact, we now have aliens zipping around our planet—with zero interest in communicating with us? That’s just rude!
CBS News and NBC News have the most on the hearings. But the most details on David Grusch’s claims about UAP craft recovery are over at The Debrief and The Atlantic. The Hill looks at what scientists say about Grusch’s claims. The New York Times 2017 investigation is worth your time—as is the New Yorker piece on how it helped mainstream UAP. Scientific American looks at serious efforts to study UAP—both within the Pentagon and outside. Stephen Mihm in the Washington Post has a good analysis of the US military’s less-than-useful handling of the issue.