The Truth is Way Out There

Our usual source for news about unidentified flying objects is the “Coast to Coast” radio show that comes on after midnight, but recently we’ve been finding it in a such staid publication as The Washington Post. The federal government has lately acknowledged it once ran a secret program to investigate UFO sightings, one of its former intelligence is giving interviews about some interesting findings, and three videos have been released by the Department of Defense showing some pretty darned hard-to-explain things going on the sky.
One of the videos was shot from the cockpit of a Navy F/A Hornet fighter plane in 2004, and shows a wingless object darting darting around the skies between San Deigo and Ensenada, Mexico, at speeds exceeding any known aircraft and executing maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of aerodynamics. Two pilots from the VFA-41 Black Aces fighter squadron are heard on the soundtrack wondering in salty terms what it might be, and when the Washington Post tracked one of them down 13 years later he still had no explanation except that it was “Something not from this earth.”
The former squadron commander is by all accounts a sane and sober fellow, despite all the kidding he’s taken from friends over the years, and even without the official government video we’d have no reason to doubt his account. By now there’s no simply no denying that some strange things are in the air.
One day way back in our sixth grade year we raised a hand to request permission to use the restroom, and when we stepped out of the annex classroom we looked up to see an oblong silver object that was moving rapidly across the vast fields north of the school. Although it was far away we could clearly see it had no wings, was leaving no contrail, and was traveling far faster than a blimp would even on a windy Kansas day. We endured a lot of kidding about it from the friends were eagerly told, but they’ll vouch we were sane and sober back then, and many years later, while perusing that science-fiction thingamajig called the internet we happened upon a picture that was taken a few years earlier in Wichita which depicts something that looks a lot like what we saw that sunny day.
Even our febrile sixth grade imaginations didn’t assume it was something from outer space, though. Wichita is the “Air Capital of the World,” after all, and back then Boeing and some of the other local airplane companies were doing some pretty cutting-edge defense work. Our pop was running the avionics program for the B-52 bomber, and sometimes he couldn’t help sharing some highly classified tales of such Buck Rogers stuff as laser beam targeting and a gizmo called a cruise missile, and we were well aware that even the hardest-to-explain things going on the sky aren’t necessarily from outer space.
Pop has his own UFO story that he likes tell, dating back to around the time we were born. He was a lowly lieutenant in the Air Force flying his beloved single engine “Swallow” back to Clark Air Force Base from a radar base on a remote Philippine island where he had somehow found himself in charge, and along the way he spotted something oddly shaped blasting past him a rate that exceeded the capabilities of any known airplane. He’d been cleared to land and was preparing to do so when the control tower radioed back to cancel the clearance, which was highly unusual, and when he at long last landed he was quickly and roughly escorted to an empty room where a couple of scary-looking men with a lot of brass of their uniforms sternly warned him to never ever tell any stories about what he might have seen that day. A few  years later Francis Gary Powers was shot down and captured while making a surveillance flight over the Soviet Union airspace in a U-2, the government was forced to admit the existence of the previously top-secret aircraft in the ensuing negotiations to get Powers back, and when pictures of it appeared in every newspaper in the world Pop immediately recognized it as the same strange thing he’d seen, and finally figured he could tell Mom about it.
What those Navy pilots saw is even harder to explain, as are the events on another official Department of Defense video, and of course there’s no ruling out that it’s not of this earth. Still, astronomers have such high-tech telescopes to have pretty much conclusively confirmed that no other planet in this solar system has life on it, they’re pretty sure that neither does anything else in the entire galaxy, and you’d have to go a very long way to find the explanation beyond that. There’s still no satisfactory explanation for the fast-moving and unaccountably maneuverable “foo fighters” that scared the hell out of numerous fearless fighter jocks on both sides of World War II, but the most likely theory is that the menacing balls of light were a natural phenomenon akin to the St. Elmo’s Fire that used to scare the hell out of fearless sailors, and the outer-space theories make no sense at all.
It would be darned hard to explain what’s on those videos as natural phenomena, and harder yet explain it as equipment malfunction when you have sane and sober Naval pilots still swearing they saw the very same thing with their own eyes. It would be impossibly hard to explain it as something man-made, we suppose, unless you happen to be one of those rare geniuses who comes up with such previously inexplicable things in the sky as airplanes and rockets and satellites and the remote control dune buggies still sending pictures back from Mars. Anyone who could come up with that thing that was zig-zagging through the laws of aerodynamics between San Diego and Ensenada would have to be the greatest genius yet, but that person’s bound to happen someday, and there’s a whole lot of things right here on earth that we find very to explain.

— Bud Norman

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