If you want to research UFO sightings, we hope you like bullshit. Because you're about to be drowned in sensationalist books and blogs from UFO enthusiasts who declare every blinking light in the sky to be the opening scenes of Independence Day. It's no coincidence that so many people who encounter UFOs also really want to believe in them.
However, buried deep within the U.S. military's own records are some very bizarre, and very well-documented sightings that have to give even a skeptic second thoughts.
Are they aliens? We're not saying that. We're just saying they're really, really weird.
It's not all that uncommon for airline pilots to spot UFOs. After all, some guy who flies with Southwestern isn't immune to mistaking a meteor for an alien craft if he's never seen a meteor before. But then you have a case like the Chiles-Witted encounter.
Named after commercial airline pilots and World War II veterans Clarence Chiles and Charles Whitted, this sighting occurred in the wee hours of July 24, 1948, when both Chiles and co-pilot Whitted reported having to evade, what could only be described as a giant, flying ... dildo.
Aphrodite: "So that's were that went!"
The Unsettling Evidence:
First off all, the below facts are not from the pages of Holy Shit UFOs Are Real Weekly or any other group of alien enthusiasts. This is from the Air Force's own investigation into the sighting.
So right off the bat we have the fact that there were two experienced pilots both reporting the same thing: that a weird-ass craft was flying alongside them, very closely. It wasn't some vague flashing light that zipped past. Both men claimed they got a good, long (10 to 15 seconds) look at it. If you think it's because both men had been dropping the same acid minutes earlier, know that one of the passengers in the plane (one of the few who were awake at the time) also saw it. Everyone involved described it as a rocket like ship, conical in shape with two decks lined with windows, which produced an almost blinding light from beneath the ship.
"The ship appeared to be Bugle-escent in nature."
The pilots got on the radio and, trying not to sound crazy, asked if there were any experimental craft in the area (there weren't, or at least none that flight control knew about).
OK, so maybe everybody on the plane got together and came up with a hoax so they'd get their name in the paper later. Well, when Air Force investigators started poking around, they found yet another witness on the ground (a guy named Walter Massey, who worked as a member of the ground crew at a nearby Air Force base) who claimed to have seen the same object, reporting it an hour before Chiles and Whitted.
Then, strangest of all, they found out that the same object (right down to the two rows of windows) was spotted in the Netherlands. Well, they probably just heard about the Chiles-Whitted sighting and wanted to jump on the bandwagon, right? Only if they had a time machine: it was reported a month earlier. What the hell?
The Official Explanation:
First the military dismissed the Chiles-Whitted encounter as a weather balloon, but then they retracted that explanation and floated the idea that it was a meteor. The pilots flatly rejected this theory, both having seen meteors before and knowing that they tended to not have windows.
A fact backed up by numerous diagrams.
After investigating it, the Air Force famously concluded that it was in fact an alien spacecraft. After investigators handed in that report, superiors handed it right back with a proverbial "BULLSHIT" stamped on it in red. They pointed out that just because we don't know what the object was, doesn't mean it's little green men.
That seems reasonable. But still ... what the hell was it? To this day, we have no idea.
The Green Fireball Sightings refer to a series of, you guessed it, green fireballs which were witnessed in the skies above New Mexico between December 1948 and April 1955. They were seen by, well, just about everybody.
Hundreds of military scientists, astronomers and enlisted personnel, along with members of the general public, reported looking on as the giant parade of WTF was unraveling in the sky above them.
Now, as a rational person looking at the above picture, you immediately think "meteor." Or maybe a comet. It's streaking across the sky, it's on fire, that's the sort of thing we expect from time to time, right? That's what the government thought, too, so they brought in a meteor expert named Dr. Lincoln LaPaz.
The Unsettling Evidence:
LaPaz spent years on the subject and decided that the rate in which the fireballs were being sighted, combined with the slow speeds and lack of rock bits trailing the objects, meant they weren't behaving in a matter fitting of meteors... or that of any natural phenomena.
The "God's Roman Candles" theory was also quickly dismissed.
The Air Force's investigation into the fireballs was hilariously named Project Twinkle, but the Air Force didn't find anything funny about the situation: A lot of these sightings were over the Los Alamos National Laboratory, aka The Place Where We Were Working On Giant City-Vaporizing Bombs (many of the sightings were from staff working there). The government decided whether it was aliens or the Russians or angels getting cast out of Heaven, they wanted to get to the bottom of that shit.
Fallen angels are notoriously dickish about stealing secrets.
After a couple of years of looking into it, however, they knew nothing more than when they started: There were balls, they were green, and on fire.
The Official Explanation:
The Air Force shut down the investigation and finally wrote off the phenomena as sunspots or some new kind of meteor or something. LaPaz (their meteor expert) insisted that none of that made sense, and would continue to do so for years. The balls were spotted over and over again even after the investigation shut down, and each time someone would go interview poor Dr. LaPaz who would repeat his long list of reasons why they're not meteors.
LaPaz thought they were some kind of radical new Soviet aircraft, or something else that didn't just occur in nature. Another theory turned up later that maybe it was some weird effect caused by nuclear fallout (which would make sense considering where they were being spotted) but "glowing green balls of fallout" isn't a known phenomenon, either.
Unless the Hulk was falling from orbit.
In short, nobody knows.
On October 1, 1948, in the skies over Fargo, North Dakota, World War II veteran and resident badass George F. Gorman claimed he wound up in a game of chicken with a small, blinking orb of light. Or as he put it: "A man-made craft that, while governed by the laws of inertia, was still able to not only out maneuver his own aircraft, but climb at a much higher rate and remain active at a much higher altitude."
The Unsettling Evidence:
As Air Force records show, along with Gorman's testimony there were two other witnesses who were working in the Air Plane Control Tower (they saw the object, but nothing showed on their radar), and the pilot and passenger of yet another plane who happened to be in the area.
Gorman claimed he chased the object all around the sky, saying at one point it flew right for him, zipping overhead at the last minute. Later he said it turned and flew toward him again, before rapidly breaking off and changing direction. He briefly lost sight of the object, then found it had climbed much higher in the sky.
It is unclear how many times Gorman said "Welcome to Earth," during the chase.
When he landed, somebody ran a Geiger counter over his plane and found slightly elevated levels of radiation, at which point everyone got really nervous (though investigators would later conclude that may be normal for planes just returning from flight, since you're less shielded from natural radiation the higher in the atmosphere you go).
The Official Explanation:
The short answer is weather balloon (seriously, when you look into it you find weather balloons seem to single-handedly fuel the UFO industry). The long answer is that the Air Force decided that Gorman, a highly regarded fighter pilot and World War II veteran, had gotten really, really confused.
Though it may be possible to confuse a giant floating scrotum for something alien, we seriously doubt its ability to perform evasive maneuvers.
Their theory was that he got disoriented while flying, and the erratic movements he perceived the glowing UFO to be making were actually a result of him flying erratically himself, causing the stationary weather balloon to appear to zip back and forth in his windshield. When he lost sight of the UFO and picked it up later, the theory went that he was actually chasing the planet Jupiter. We're assuming he didn't catch it.
In other words, they're saying he was pretty much the world's shittiest fighter pilot, since you'd think the ability to tell the difference between a hostile aircraft and a celestial object would be one of the first things they teach you in fighter pilot school (you waste a ton of bullets otherwise).
To be fair, however, there is some precedent for that sort of thing. A pilot by the name of Captain Thomas F. Mantell actually freaking died this way. He and a few other planes were dispatched to check out a UFO in January of 1948. The object was too high in the sky for their planes, but Mantell, either having huge balls or a burning hatred of aliens, went after it. Finally at 25,000 feet, he blacked out and his plane crashed. Holy crap! He was killed by aliens!
Well, before he went out, he had time to radio in that the craft was "metallic and tremendous in size." And it was. The Air Force had forgotten to mention they were testing a new weather balloon in the area, one that happened to be huge and covered in a reflective silver surface. Just one of those wacky misunderstandings that would have made for a funny story later, had it not caused a guy to die in a horrific plane crash.
In fact, Jack suffered a similar fate in the series finale of Three's Company.