In 2017, several news organizations revealed the existence of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a U.S. government-funded investigation into unidentified flying objects from 2007 to 2012. This secret $22 million program, however, was not the first of its kind. Official government UFO studies began in the late 1940s with Project Sign, providing some of the most credible videos of aerial phenomena to date. The 2017 revelation that the U.S. government was actively researching UFOs re-ignited world interest in UFOs and aliens. Below are a few of the most believable UFO sightings to date.
Rendlesham Forest incident 1980
In late December 1980, there was a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights near Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, which have become linked with claims of UFO landings. The events occurred just outside RAF Woodbridge, which was used at the time by the United States Air Force (USAF). USAF personnel, including deputy base commander Lieutenant Colonel Charles I. Halt, claimed to see things they described as a UFO sighting.
The occurrence is the most famous of claimed UFO events to have happened in the United Kingdom, ranking among the best-known reported UFO events worldwide. It has been compared to the Roswell UFO incident in the United States and is sometimes referred to as "Britain's Roswell"
Phoenix Lights 1997
Between 7:30 and 10:30 on the night of March 13, 1997, thousands of people reported seeing strange lights in the sky, ranging across an area spanning roughly 300 miles from Nevada to Tucson and into Arizona. These became known as the “Phoenix Lights,” although there were actually two separate sets of phenomena; a V-shaped formation that was seen to pass over the area, and stationary lights that were spotted over the city of Phoenix, Arizona.
Roswell, New Mexico 1947
In 1947, a rancher was examining his pastures when he encountered a series of debris such as metallic rods and chunks of plastic. When soldiers from the Roswell Army Air Force Base where called in to retrieve the wreckage, headlines claimed that it was a cover up of a crashed UFO. In 1997, the government admitted to a cover up, but not of a flying saucer. In a report titled "Case Closed: Final Report on the Roswell Crash," the government stated that the debris was part of a top-secret project using high-altitude balloons to check for nuclear tests done by the Soviets.
Betty & Barney Hill Abduction - 1961
Betty and Barney Hill were an American couple who claimed to have been abducted by extra-terrestrials in a rural portion of New Hampshire on September 19–20, 1961.
The couple's story, called the Hill Abduction, was that they had been kidnapped for a short time by a UFO. Theirs was the first widely publicized claim of alien abduction, adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television movie The UFO Incident.
On September 21, Betty telephoned Pease Air Force Base to report their UFO encounter, though for fear of being labelled eccentric, she withheld some of the details. On September 22, Major Paul W. Henderson telephoned the Hills for a more detailed interview. Henderson's report, dated September 26, determined that the Hills had probably misidentified the planet Jupiter. (This was later changed to "optical condition", "inversion" and "insufficient data.") (Report 100-1-61, Air Intelligence Information Record) His report was forwarded to Project Blue Book, the U.S. Air Force's UFO research project.
While “UFO fever” may have peaked in the 1950s, when it seemed that the sky was alive with flying saucers and the drive-ins were filled with movies about invaders from outer space, sightings of UFOs have actually increased in recent years. Kenneth Arnold’s sighting over the Pacific Northwest in 1947 triggered a flying saucer mania, with flying saucers reported worldwide, the fast pace of technological development which saw the U.S. go from subsonic propeller-driven to supersonic jet-powered fighters and a military based on conventional to nuclear weapons in less than ten years drove an intense interest in UFOs. The U.S. was also set to push into space with the establishment of NASA and the eventual goal of reaching the moon. Anything seemed possible.
In the 1970s, as environmental problems mounted, trust in government decreased and the threat of nuclear war loomed, the emphasis shifted to reports of face-to-face contact with alien species, many of which were apparently unhappy with how humans were ruining the planet.
In the 1990s this narrative of direct interaction grew to its most extreme, with thousands reporting that they had been “abducted” by aliens, who then performed medical experiments.
If you take these experiences to be even remotely true, the logic leads you to an inevitable conclusion: The U.S. government knows far more than it lets on about flying saucers. One conviction among UFOlogists is that the U.S. government not only knows more about aliens than it lets on, but that actively cooperates with them. According to some conspiracy theories, the federal government, particularly the national security apparatus, allows aliens to maintain underground bases, such as the one allegedly underneath Dulce, New Mexico, or in the mountain next to the famous Area 51 in Nevada.
Today, we are still no closer to the truth behind the UFO phenomenon. There is a real phenomenon, but whether it is based in mass hallucinations, secret government aircraft, or actual beings from another planet is still unknown.