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UFOs are unidentified flying objects.
UFOs are any real or apparent flying object which cannot be identified by the observer and which remains unidentified after investigation. UFOS are also called unidentified flying objects. UFOs doesn't specially mean an alien craft. UFOs merely means the object has not been identified.
Sightings of UFOs date back to ancient times. However, reports of UFOs started to become more common after the first widely publicized U.S. sighting in 1947. Many tens of thousands of such claimed observations have since been reported worldwide. It is very likely many more go unreported due to fear of public ridicule because of the social stigma created around the UFO topic.
In popular culture throughout the world, UFO is commonly used to refer to any hypothetical alien spacecraft but the term flying saucer is also regularly used. Once a UFO is identified as a known object (for example an aircraft or weather balloon), it ceases to be a UFO and becomes an identified object. In such cases, it is inaccurate to continue to use the acronym UFO to describe the object.
History of UFOs.
Unusual aerial phenomena have been reported throughout history. Some of these strange apparitions may have been astronomical phenomena such as comets or bright meteors, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia and the rare, yet understood, lenticular clouds. Examples of these reports include:
These sightings were usually treated as supernatural portents, angels, and other religious omens. Some contemporary investigators believe them to be the ancient equivalent of modern UFO reports.
First modern reports of UFOs.
Before the terms "flying saucer" and "UFO" were coined, there were a number of reports of strange, unidentified aerial phenomena. These reports date from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century. They include:
In Canada, the Department of National Defence has dealt with reports, sightings and investigations of UFOs across Canada. In addition to conducting investigations into crop circles in Duhamel, Alberta, it still considers "unsolved" the Falcon Lake incident in Manitoba and the Shag Harbour incident in Nova Scotia.  Early Canadian studies included Project Magnet (1950-1954) and Project Second Story (1952-1954), supported by the Defence Research Board. These studies were headed by Canadian Department of Transport radio engineer Wilbert B. Smith, who later publicly supported extraterrestrial origins.
4. Famous Canadian cases
In the Shag Harbour incident, a large object sequentially flashing lights was seen and heard to dive into the water by multiple witnesses. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and many local residents also witnessed a light floating on the water immediately afterward, and a large patch of unusual yellow foam when a water search was initiated. Multiple government agencies were eventually involved in trying to identify the crashed object and searching for it. Canadian naval divers later purportedly found no wreckage. In official documents, the object was called a "UFO" because no conventional explanation for the crashed object was discovered. Around the same time, both the Canadian and US military were involved in another UFO-related search at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, approximately 30 miles from Shag Harbour.
Modern UFO era.
The post World War II UFO phase in the United States began with a reported sighting by American businessman Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947 while flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, Washington. He reported seeing nine brilliantly bright objects flying across the face of Rainier towards nearby Mount Adams at "an incredible speed", which he calculated at at least 1200 miles per hour by timing their travel between Rainier and Adams. His sighting subsequently received significant media and public attention. Arnold would later say they "flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water" and also said they were "flat like a pie pan", "shaped like saucers," and "half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. ...they looked like a big flat disk." (One, however, he would describe later as being almost crescent-shaped.) Arnold’s reported descriptions caught the media’s and the public’s fancy and gave rise to the terms flying saucer and flying disk.
Arnold’s sighting was followed in the next few weeks by several thousand other reported sightings, mostly in the U.S., but in other countries as well. Perhaps the most significant of these was a United Airlines crew sighting of nine more disc-like objects over Idaho on the evening of July 4. This sighting was even more widely reported than Arnold’s and lent considerable credence to Arnold’s report. For the next few days most American newspapers were filled with front-page stories of the new "flying saucers" or "flying discs." Starting with official debunkery that began the night of 8 July with the Roswell UFO incident, reports rapidly tapered off, ending the first big U.S. UFO wave.
Starting July 9, Army Air Force intelligence, in cooperation with the FBI, secretly began a formal investigation into the best sightings, which included Arnold’s and the United crew’s. The FBI was told that intelligence was using "all of its scientists" to determine whether or not "such a phenomenon could, in fact, occur." Furthermore, the research was "being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon," or that "they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled." (Maccabee, 5) Three weeks later they concluded that, "This 'flying saucer’ situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around." A further review by the intelligence and technical divisions of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field reached the same conclusion, that "the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious," that there were objects in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance, and as big as man-made aircraft. They were characterized by "extreme rates of climb [and] maneuverability," general lack of noise, absence of trail, occasional formation flying, and "evasive" behavior "when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar," suggesting either manual, automatic, or remote control. It was thus recommended in late September 1947 that an official Air Force investigation be set up to investigate the phenomenon. This led to the creation of the Air Force’s Project Sign at the end of 1947, which became Project Grudge at the end of 1948, and then Project Blue Book in 1952. Blue Book closed down in 1970, ending the official Air Force UFO investigations.
Use of "UFO" instead of "flying saucer" was first suggested in 1952 by Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, the first director of Project Blue Book, who felt that "flying saucer" did not reflect the diversity of the sightings. Ruppelt suggested that "UFO" should be pronounced as a word - "you-foe". However it is generally pronounced by forming each letter: "U.F.O." His term was quickly adopted by the Air Force, which also briefly used "UFOB" circa 1954. (See next paragraph.) Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book in his memoir, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (1956), also the first book to use the term.
Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued in 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object (UFOB) as "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." The regulation also said UFOBs were to be investigated as a "possible threat to the security of the United States" and "to determine technical aspects involved." Furthermore, Air Force personnel were directed not to discuss unexplained cases with the press.
UFOs in popular culture
Beginning in the 1950s, UFO-related spiritual sects, sometimes referred to as contactee cults, began to appear. Most often the members of these sects rallied around a central individual, who claimed to either have made personal contact with space-beings, or claimed to be in telepathic contact with them. Prominent among such individuals was George Adamski, who claimed to have met a tall, blond-haired Venusian named "Orthon," who came to warn us about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Adamski was widely dismissed, but an Adamski Foundation still exists, publishing and selling Adamski’s writings. At least two of these sects developed a substantial number of adherents, most notably The Aetherius Society, founded by British mystic George King in 1956, and the Unarius Foundation, established by "Ernest L." and Ruth Norman in 1954. A standard theme of the alleged messages from outer-space beings to these cults was a warning about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. More recent groups organized around an extraterrestrial theme include Ummo, Heaven’s Gate, Raël, and the Ashtar Galactic Command. Many of the early UFO sects, as well as later ones, share a tendency to incorporate ideas from both Christianity and various eastern religions, "hybridizing" these with ideas pertaining to extraterrestrials and their benevolent concern with the people of Earth.
The notion of contactee cults gained a new twist during the 1980s, primarily in the USA, with the publication of books by Whitley Strieber (beginning with Communion) and Jacques Vallee (Passport to Magonia). Strieber, a horror writer, felt that aliens were harassing him and were responsible for "missing time" during which he was subjected to strange experiments by "grey aliens". This newer, darker model can be seen in the subsequent wave of "alien abduction" literature, and in the background mythos of The X Files and many other TV series.
However, even in the alien abduction literature, motives of the aliens run the gamut from hostile to benevolent. For example, researcher David Jacobs believes we are undergoing a form of stealth invasion through genetic assimilation. The theme of genetic manipulation (though not necessarily an invasion) is also strongly reflected in the writings of Budd Hopkins. The late Harvard psychiatrist John Mack (1929-2004) believed that the aliens’ ethical bearing was to take a role as "tough love" gurus trying to impart wisdom. James Harder says abductees predominantly report positive interactions with aliens, most of whom have benevolent intentions and express concern about human survival.
An interesting 1970s-era development was a renewal and broadening of ideas associating UFOs with supernatural or preternatural subjects such as occultism, cryptozoology, and parapsychology. Some 1950s contactee cultists had incorporated various religious and occult ideas into their beliefs about UFOs, but in the 1970s this was repeated on a considerably larger scale. Many participants in the New Age movement came to believe in alien contact, both through mediumistic channeling and through literal, physical contact. A prominent spokesperson for this trend was actress Shirley MacLaine, especially in her book and miniseries, Out On a Limb. The 1970s saw the publication of many New Age books in which ideas about UFOs and extraterrestrials figured prominently.
Another key development in 1970s UFO folklore came with the publication of Erich von Däniken’s book Chariots of the Gods. The book argued that aliens have been visiting Earth for thousands of years, which he used to explain UFO-like images from various archaeological sources as well as unsolved mysteries. Such ideas were not exactly new. For example, earlier in his career, astronomer Carl Sagan in Intelligent Life in the Universe (1966) had similarly argued that aliens could have been visiting the Earth sporadically for millions of years. "Ancient astronauts" proposals inspired numerous imitators, sequels, and fictional adaptations, including one book (Barry Downing's The Bible and Flying Saucers) which interprets miraculous aerial phenomena in the Bible as records of alien contact. Many of these interpretations posit that aliens have been guiding Human evolution, an idea taken up earlier by the novel and film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
UFOs constitute a widespread international cultural phenomenon of the last half-century. Folklorist Thomas E. Bullard writes, "UFOs have invaded modern consciousness in overwhelming force, and endless streams of books, magazine articles, tabloid covers, movies, TV shows, cartoons, advertisements, greeting cards, toys, T-shirts, even alien-head salt and pepper shakers, attest to the popularity of this phenomenon." Gallup polls rank UFOs near the top of lists for subjects of widespread recognition. In 1973, a survey found that 95 percent of the public reported having heard of UFOs, whereas only 92 percent had heard of US President Gerald Ford in a 1977 poll taken just nine months after he left the White House. (Bullard, 141) A 1996 Gallup poll reported that 71 percent of the United States population believed that the government was covering up information regarding UFOs. A 2002 Roper poll for the Sci Fi channel found similar results, but with more people believing UFOs were extraterrestrial craft. In that latest poll, 56 percent thought UFOs were real craft and 48 percent that aliens had visited the Earth. Again, about 70 percent felt the government was not sharing everything it knew about UFOs or extraterrestrial life.
Research into UFOs.
ufology is a Neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study UFO reports and associated evidence. While ufology does not represent an academic research program, UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years, varying widely in scope and scientific rigor. Governments or independent academics in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union are known to have investigated UFO reports at various times. No national government has ever publicly suggested that UFOs represent any form of alien intelligence. Perhaps the best known study was Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the United States Air Force from 1947 until 1969. Other notable investigations include the Robertson Panel (1953), the Brookings Report (1960), the Condon Committee (1966-1968), the Green Fireballs/Project Twinkle investigation (1948-1951), the Sturrock Panel (1998), and the French GEPAN/SEPRA (1977-2004) and COMETA (1996-1999) study groups.
Some researchers recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:
Hynek system of identifying UFOs.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek developed another commonly used system of description, dividing sightings into six categories. It first separates sightings on the basis of proximity, arbitrarily using 500 feet as the cutoff point. It then subdivides these into divisions based on viewing conditions or special features. The three distant sighting categories are:
The distant classification is useful in terms of evidentiary value, with RV cases usually considered to be the highest because of radar corroboration and NL cases the lowest because of the ease in which lights seen at night are often confused with prosaic phenomena such as meteors, bright stars, or airplanes. RV reports are also fewest in number, while NL are largest.
In addition were three "close encounter" (CE) subcategories, again thought to be higher in evidentiary value, because it includes measurable physical effects and the objects seen up close are less likely to be the result of misperception. As in RV cases, these tend to be relatively rare:
Hynek's CE classification system has since been expanded to include such things as alleged alien abductions and cattle mutilation phenomena.
Vallee System of UFO identification.
Jacques Vallee has devised a UFO classification system which is preferred by many UFO investigators over Hynek's system as it is considerably more descriptive than Hynek's, especially in terms of the reported behavior of UFOs.
Type - I (a, b, c, d)- Observation of an unusual object, spherical discoidal, or of another geometry, on or situated close to the ground (tree height, or lower), which may be associated with traces - thermal, luminous, or mechanical effects.
Type - II (a, b, c) - Observation of an unusual object with vertical cylindrical formation in the sky, associated with a diffuse cloud. This phenomenon has been given various names such as "cloud-cigar" or "cloud-sphere."
Type - III (a, b, c, d, e)- Observation of an unusual object of spherical, discoidal or elliptical shape, stationary in the sky.
Type IV (a, b, c, d) - Observation of an unusual object in continuous flight.
Type V (a, b, c)- Observation of an unusual object of indistinct appearance, i.e., appearing to be not fully material or solid in structure.
Source: 1. Jacques and Janine Vallee: Challenge To Science: The UFO Enigma, LC# 66-25843
Physical evidence of UFOs.
Besides visual sightings, cases sometimes have alleged associated direct or indirect physical evidence, including many cases studied by the military and various government agencies of different countries. Indirect physical evidence would be data obtained from afar, such as radar contact and photographs. More direct physical evidence involves physical interactions with the environment at close range-Hynek's "close encounter" or Vallee's "Type-I" cases-which include "landing traces," electromagnetic interference, and physiological/biological effects.
A list of various physical evidence cases from government and private studies includes:
These various reported physical evidence cases have been studied by various scientist and engineers, both privately and in official governmental studies (such as Project Blue Book, the Condon Committee, and the French GEPAN/SEPRA). A comprehensive scientific review of physical evidence cases was carried out by the 1998 Sturrock UFO panel.
Attempts have been made to reverse engineer the possible physics behind UFOs through analysis of both eyewitness reports and the physical evidence. Examples are former NASA and nuclear engineer James McCampbell in his book Ufology online, NACA/NASA engineer Paul R. Hill in his book Unconventional Flying Objects, and German rocketry pioneer Hermann Oberth. Among subjects tackled by McCampbell, Hill, and Oberth was the question of how UFOs can fly at supersonic speeds without creating a sonic boom. McCampbell's proposed solution of a microwave plasma parting the air in front of the craft is currently being researched by Dr. Leik Myrabo, Professor of Engineering Physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a possible advance in hypersonic flight. 1995 Aviation Week article
Notable UFO-related sightings and events
In January 2007, the French Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES) declared it will publish an archive of UFO sightings and other phenomena online.
Explanations and opinions of UFOs.
Statistics compiled by U.S. Air Force studies from 1947-1970 found that the strong preponderance of identified sightings were due to misidentifications, with hoaxes and psychological aberrations accounting for only a few percent of all cases.
Nevertheless, many cases remained unexplained. An Air Force study by Battelle Memorial Institute scientists from 1952-1955 of 3200 USAF cases found 22% were unknowns, and with the best cases, 33% remained unsolved. Similarly about 30% of the UFO cases studied by the 1969 USAF Condon Committee were deemed unsolved when reviewed by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The official French government UFO scientific study (GEPAN/SEPRA) from 1976 to 2004 listed about 13% of 5800 cases as very detailed yet still inexplicable (with 46% deemed to have definite or probable explanations and 41% having inadequate information).
Despite the remaining unexplained cases in the cited scientific studies above, many skeptics still argue that the general opinion of the mainstream scientific community is that all UFO sightings could ultimately be explained by prosaic explanations such as misidentification of natural and man-made phenomena (either known or still unknown), hoaxes, and psychological phenomena such as optical illusions or dreaming/sleep paralysis (often given as an explanation for purported alien abductions)
Other skeptical arguments against UFOs include:
Popular ideas for explaining UFOs.
To account for hardcore unsolved cases, a number of explanations have been proposed by both proponents and skeptics. Among proponents, some of the more common explanations for UFOs are:
Similarly, skeptics usually propose the following explanations:
Usually a combination of explanations is cited to explain all cases, and even proponents will sometimes invoke skeptical explanations, such as man-made craft, to possibly account for some unsolved cases.
Identified flying objects (IFOs).
It has been estimated from various studies that 50-90% of all reported UFO sightings are eventually identified, while typically 10-20% remain unidentified. Studies also show only a tiny percentage of UFO reports to be deliberate hoaxes; most are honest misidentifications of natural and man-made phenomena.
Generally studies indicate that misidentifications fall into three basic categories: astronomical causes (planets, stars, meteors, etc.), aircraft, and balloons. These typically account for 80-90% of the IFOs, with all other causes (such as birds, clouds, mirages, searchlights, etc.) being rare and accounting for the remainder.
The actual percentages of IFOs vs. UFOs depends on who is doing the study and can vary widely depending on the used database, evaluation criteria, personal biases, and politics. Results can also fluctuate from year to year. For details, see Identified flying objects
UFOs: the hoaxes.
Among the many people who have reported UFO sightings, some have been exposed as hoaxers. Not all alleged hoax exposures are certain, however, and many claimants have stuck by their stories, leaving the determination of specific cases as hoaxes contentious. Some of the controversial subjects include these:
UFOs in psychology.
The study of UFO claims over the years has led to valuable discoveries about atmospheric phenomena and psychology. In psychology, the study of UFO sightings has revealed information on misinterpretation, perceptual illusions, hallucination and fantasy-prone personality, which may explain why some people are willing to believe hoaxers such as George Adamski. Many have questioned the reliability of hypnosis in UFO abduction cases.
Astronomers and other scientists view of UFOs.
Although it is sometimes contended that Astronomers never report UFOs, the Air Force's Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1% of all their reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two surveys of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Astronomical Society. About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings. In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and astronomer J. Allen Hynek of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) found that 24% responded "yes" to the question "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"
Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who admitted to 6 UFO sightings, including 3 Green Fireballs supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being "unscientific." Another astronomer was Dr. Lincoln La Paz, who had headed the Air Force's investigation into the Green Fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. La Paz reported 2 personal sightings, one of a green fireball, the other of an anomalous disc-like object. Even later UFO debunker Dr. Donald Menzel filed a UFO report in 1949.
Various public scientific studies have over the past half century have examined UFO reports in great detail. None of these studies have officially concluded that any reports are caused by extraterrestrial spacecraft (e.g., Seeds 1995:A4). Some studies were neutral in their conclusions, but argued the inexplicable core cases called for continued scientific study. Examples are the Sturrock Panel study of 1998 and the 1970 AIAA review of the Condon Report. Other private or governmental studies, some secret, have concluded in favor of the ETH, or have had members who disagreed with the official conclusions. The following are examples of such studies and individuals:
UFOs the conspiracy theories.
UFOs are sometimes an element of elaborate conspiracy theories in which the government is said to be intentionally covering up the existence of aliens, or sometimes collaborating with them. There are many versions of this story; some are exclusive, while others overlap with various other conspiracy theories.
Probably most ufologists believe the basic premise that various world governments are covering up UFO information. In the U.S., opinion polls again indicate that a strong majority of people believe the U.S. government is witholding such information. Various notables have also expressed such views. Some examples are astronauts Gordon Cooper and Edgar Mitchell, Senator Barry Goldwater, Vice Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (the first CIA director), Lord Hill-Norton (former British Chief of Defense Staff and NATO head), the 1999 high-level French COMETA report by various French generals and aerospace experts, and Yves Sillard (former director of the French space agency CNES, new director of French UFO research organization GEIPAN).
There is also speculation that UFO phenomena are tests of experimental aircraft or advanced weapons. In this case UFOs are viewed as failures to retain secrecy, or deliberate attempts at disinformation: to deride the phenomenon so that it can be pursued unhindered. This explanation may or may not feed back into the previous one, where current advanced military technology is considered to be adapted alien technology. (See also: skunk works and Area 51)
It has also been suggested by a few fringe authors that all or most human technology and culture is based on extraterrestrial contact. See also Ancient astronauts.
Allegations of evidence suppression on UFOs.
Some also contend regarding physical evidence that it exists abundantly but is swiftly and sometimes clumsily suppressed by governments, aiming to insulate a population they regard as unprepared for the social, theological, and security implications of such evidence. See the Brookings Report.
There have been allegations of suppression of UFO related evidence for many decades. (See also Men in Black) Some examples are:
UFOs in ufology.
"Ufology" is the name given to the study of UFO phenomena. Not all ufologists believe that UFOs are necessarily extraterrestrial spacecraft, or even that they are objective physical phenomena. Even UFO cases that are exposed as hoaxes, delusions or misidentifications may still be worthy of serious study from a psychosocial point of view.
UFO researchers: organizations: U.S..
There have been a number of civilian groups formed to study UFO’s and/or to announce their opinions on the subject. Some have achieved fair degrees of mainstream visibility while others remain obscure. The groups listed below have embraced a broad variety of approaches, and have seen a correspondingly wide variety of responses from mainstream critics or supporters.
UFOs in film and television.
Documentary channels, such as the Discovery Channel and the History Channel airs UFO, alien related material from time to time.
As spaceships from other worlds
In a 2006 survey, 24.6% Americans agreed (or strongly agreed) that some UFOs are probably spaceships from other worlds.
Other pages about ufos and aliens.
Debunkery of UFOs.
Histories of UFOs.
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