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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a… UAP!?

Posted 09/18/2023 by Brady Vinlove

One encounter with a UAP that was recounted at the trial by a Navy veteran can be seen in a video that the Pentagon declassified in 2020. photo courtesy of Department of Defense

A recent congressional hearing has generated interest and speculation about the existence of aliens, but its real implications are a bit more frightening.

Americans have long been fascinated by the idea of aliens and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and that still remains true today. This past summer, Congress held a hearing regarding UFOs – or Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs) as they are known by the military – with testimony from military veterans about their experience encountering UAPs. While some people on social media took this as proof of extraterrestrial life, the truth is a bit more complicated.

In July of 2023, three veterans testified before a House Oversight Committee national security subcommittee regarding their personal experiences of seeing UAPs and the government’s response. David Gursch, a retired Air Force intelligence officer who worked on the UAP Task Force and has since become a whistleblower has stirred up public interest with his allegations. In his opening statement, he claimed during his time on the UAP Task Force he found out about “a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering program to which [he] was denied access to those additional read-on’s.” In addition, he claimed that the U.S. government has recovered “non-human” biological remains along with the alleged extraterrestrial spacecraft. While Gursch admitted to never having personally seen any extraterrestrial technology or bodies, he asserted that his testimony “is based on information [he has] been given by individuals with a longstanding track record of legitimacy and service to this country – many of whom also shared compelling evidence in the form of photography, official documentation, and classified oral testimony.” He was unwilling to go into specifics or answer all questions, only saying he would do so in a private, secure location. Gursch also recounted that he has faced fierce and violent retaliation from government agencies for deciding to share such information but he did so anyway to “expose what [he] viewed as a grave congressional oversight issue.”

Another veteran who testified was former Navy fighter pilot, Ryan Graves. In his testimony, Graves claimed that in 2014 he and other pilots saw, “a dark gray cube inside of a clear sphere — motionless against the wind, fixed directly at the entry point.” The former pilot explained that the UAP was unlike any technology he had ever seen, as it could stay steady in hurricane level winds and did not appear to have any ordinary flight mechanisms like wings or engines. Not only did he see this UAP, he claimed encounters were frequent for him and his colleagues. However, when he submitted a safety report of the incident, there was no response or acknowledgment of what had happened. Due to these experiences, he has started a group called Americans for Safe Aerospace to support both military and commercial pilots who report UAPs.

Former Navy commander David Fravor told the committee about an incident in 2004 when he and three other pilots witnessed a cylindrical white object with no visible flight controls like wings or rotors. When they tried to approach the object, he claimed, “it rapidly accelerated and disappeared right in front of our aircraft,” which he described as a technology never seen before. According to Fravor, the government did not follow up on this mysterious event until years later and then didn’t take any action. 

In response to such claims, Susan Gough, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, stated that Pentagon inquiries found no evidence to prove that the government possesses extraterrestrial spacecraft or bodies nor are they trying to reverse engineer them. Some lawmakers present at the hearing were skeptical of the claims as well, like Representative Eric Burlison of Missouri who believes that extraterrestrials creating the technology to visit Earth is “far-fetched.”

However, this hasn’t stopped people on social media from claiming that aliens are real. Many are joking about how the government has confirmed the existence of aliens and no one cares. One user on X posted, “They [are] announcing that aliens are real and not one person moved…” Others say that Americans are too stressed about other issues like climate change and inflation to care about the existence of aliens. 

While this hearing does not confirm the existence of extraterrestrials, the issue of UAPs does have broad national implications. For instance, UAPs pose a national security concern as they could be unknown foreign surveillance or become a hazard to airplanes, so many Congresspeople and members of the public want more transparency on the subject. In early 2023, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report stating that 366 UAPs have been reported since 2021. Over half of the encounters were determined to be “unremarkable” and classified as balloons, birds, drones or weather phenomena. The other 171 reports require more investigation to determine what they are, but the government is committed to identifying these objects for national security. However, Congress and veterans want more transparency and a more effective way to report UAPs. NPR claims that only 5% of UAP sightings are reported, so Navy veterans, like Graves, want a “safe and transparent” system to report UAPs and to reduce stigma around reporting. With increasing transparency around the UAP encounters, it is likely there will be more interest in the subject.