© 1997 All Rights Reserved
"UFO Report - a statement by a person or persons judged responsible and psychologically normal by commonly accepted standards, describing a personal visual or instrumentally aided perception of an object or light in the sky or on the ground and / or its assumed physical effects, that does not specify any known physical event, object, or process or any psychological event or process [even after examination by qualifed persons]..."
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Northwestern University, founder of the Center for UFO Studies.
If the only strange things seen in the sky were a few oddly moving lights, or some specks glinting in the sun, there would be no UFO problem. But there have been many close observations of these strange objects. In addition, physical traces of various kinds have been left behind, and witnesses have experienced physical and medical effects, including injury and death.
Of all of the reported sightings, between 5 and 25% (depending on the sample) remain unidentifiable to expert examination. These are the real UFOs.
If you think that reports of UFOs remain unidentified because there is insufficient information to perform an identification, you will find it hard to explain how the Battelle Institute, under contract to the Air Force, in an analysis of nearly 4,000 reports (Blue Book Special Report 14), found that a "good" (i.e. detailed) report was twice as likely as a "poor" (sketchy) report to be classed as unidentified (This was confirmed by a later study on a completely separate set of cases performed by the French organization GEPAN). You will also find it hard to explain why they also found that the "knowns" share almost nothing in common with the "unknowns".
If you think that reports of UFOs remain unidentified because the witnesses are perpetrating hoaxes, you should know that no major study has ever found more than a few percent of initial UFO reports to be hoaxes.
If you think that only unreliable individuals are reporters of UFOs, then you are unaware of the tens of thousands of reports generated by responsible police officers, pilots, military personnel, and ordinary people who were going about their normal business when they were confronted with something they had never imagined or desired, and which, in a matter of minutes, left them confused, amazed, or terrified.
In general, humans are good witnesses. They may not be able to identify what they see, but they usually provide sufficient information for experts to do so. More importantly, there is very little room for misinterpretation when an object approaches within a hundred yards of a witness, illuminating the scene and occluding more distant objects. When the same event is observed by multiple independent witnesses, the case is even stronger. And when traces such as burns, swirled grass, and indentations are left behind, it is possible to derive from direct measurement parameters such as weight and energy output.
Such measurements indicate that the landed UFO is an object between 15 and 100 feet in diameter, most commonly under 30 feet; it weighs between 30 and 60 tons; it emits visible light energy when airborne ranging from a few kW to hundreds of mW. It emits invisible electromagnetic energy at the high frequency end of the spectrum, including UV and soft x-rays, as shown by the many cases of skinburn and eye irritation. It occasionally emits harder radiation, which have led to symptoms of radiation sickness in witnesses who have closely approached the objects. However, lasting radioactivity, which would indicate the presence of radiation in or beyond the gamma band, have rarely been found at landing sites.
In flight, the UFO has no aerodynamic characteristics. It has no wings or visible propulsion systems, and, with few exceptions, makes no more than a soft humming or whining sound. In darkness, it is frequently observed to emit a colored luminosity which is both global and localized. It usually emits that luminosity in a shape which depends on its current maneuver. Though sometimes described as "flames", close observations have shown that this luminosity does not have a high temperature, and it probably represents an ionization of the local atmosphere similar to what occurs in a neon light.
Most UFOs are symmetrical objects with spherical, lenticular, elliptical, or cylindrical shapes. Some UFOs have a equatorial ring and are referred to as having a "saturn" shape. There are also flat bottomed disks and disks with domes. Some UFOs are very small (inches to feet) and some are very large (hundreds of feet). All of these forms have common flight characteristics. Sometimes, what may be the same object has been observed, and even photographed at different times and places, as described in a recent paper.
All UFOs are capable of incredible speeds. Reliable radar observations (in some cases with multiple sets at multiple frequencies) have documented speeds as high as 10,000 mph within the atmosphere, as long ago as the 1950s. High speeds alone do not distinguish the UFO, since such objects as meteors can attain similar speeds. But profiles of speed and altitude based on radar measurements and backed up by visual observations indicate that UFOs can and do undergo radical changes in both speed and altitude simultaneously. Other observations indicate a disregard for normal orientations, where the UFO is observed to hover on edge, flip upside down, or spin while hovering. A particularly characteristic maneuver is the "falling leaf", where the object swings like a pendulum from side to side while descending. This maneuver to lose altitude was first used in human flight by Paul Hill, the NASA engineer who invented the flying platform.
UFOs appear to be able to interfere with electrical systems, and seem especially interested in interfering with and disabling automobiles. The Levelland case is a classic among these cases; several cars across a wide area were stopped during close approach to a luminous UFO landed on the road in front of them - these encounters were witnessed within a short span of time by multiple independent witnesses. Television and radio interference have also been reported.
Extremely close observations of UFOs also yield reports of odors near UFOs. These odors are often reported as "ozone" or "formaldehyde", and in most cases are highly irritating.
UFOs do have solid surfaces, as has been shown by reports where witnesses have struck the objects with hands, rocks, or bullets. Interestingly, one case directly demonstrated the presence of a force field of some sort, when the witness noted that a thrown rock was deflected to the ground at a distance of about fifteen feet from a hovering UFO.
UFOs do land, and when they do so, they sometimes simply hover at a very low altitude, producing swirled grass, subsoil burning of plant root systems, and unusual effects on the exposed plants (usually changes in the chlorophyll). In other cases, they extend landing gear of some sort, usually legs with footpads. It is these landing gear which have left marks amenable to pressure analysis, and from which we have been able to derive the possible weight of the UFO.
Thus - the UFO: A solid object with weight, emitting energy, sound, and odor. In some cases interfering with automobile engines and electrical systems, in other cases affecting humans and animals with radiation, chemical, and / or sonic emissions. It is hard to understand such a clear pattern being ignored by science.
Many serious UFO researchers consider it premature to develop theories of the origin and intent of UFOs. However, other researchers have generated speculations, as yet, typically untestable, as to the nature of the UFO.
By far the most popular theory is the one of extraterrestrial origin. Writers such as Keyhoe, Lorenzen, Fuller, Fowler, Randle, and Hopkins have supported this theory. And there are certainly reasons to consider it, not least of which is the physical appearance and behavior of the objects, the geographic patterns of their appearance, the presence of humanoid, but clearly alien occupants, sample gathering activities by occupants, and, of course, the various accounts of abductions, where witnesses claim to have been taken aboard the object and given medical examinations, and in some cases to have communicated with their abductors. Some researchers claim that UFOs have crashed, and that remains of the occupants have been obtained by various governments (the most famous of these claims is, of course, the Roswell, NM incident). Paul Hill, a former NASA researcher, who developed the flying platform in the 1950s, had two UFO sightings, and based on his interest, developed an extensive theory of UFO propulsion in his excellent book "Unconventional Flying Objects: a scientific approach", and also showed that interstellar distances are not an insuperable obstacle to sufficiently motivated astronauts, due to the effects of relativity, which slow down apparent time as a vehicle approaches the speed of light.
Not all UFO researchers adhere to a view that the UFO is a solid, physical object in the ordinary sense. Some eminent researchers such as Jacques Vallee think that the UFO is "paraphysical" in nature - which is to say that it may represent an intrusion from another dimension, or a temporary construct of matter generated from energy controlled by a natural or intelligent source. Some cases which appear to show dematerialization of a UFO, or which indicate a specific knowledge of a witness and / or intrusion in a witness life could be evidence for such a view. Researchers who follow Vallee's example often draw parallels between folkloric accounts (such as those of elves and fairy apparitions) and modern UFO events, and hold that the UFO phenomenon may simply be a modern guise for a phenomenon which has been present since long before the modern UFO era. They also often describe the phenomenon as part of a "control" system, which operates on a level below the normal view of society, changing our mythic structures, and influencing the development of our civilization. They emphasize that this may or may not be the result of the action of an external intelligence.
Other researchers draw parallels between the behavior and appearance of UFOs and their occupants and other areas of study loosely referred to as "paranormal". John Keel is one of the most well known of this school, and his work has attempted to unify apparitions, "monsters", contactees, the Men-In-Black phenomenon, and cases which suggest direct intervention by the UFO source in the lives of witnesses. In the view of researchers such as Keel, the phenomenon is almost infinitely malleable, has extensive knowledge of individual humans and human history, and has both good and evil aspects which are reflected in the behavior of its manifestations.
Some researchers have looked to the past and developed theories of intervention by the phenomenon in past human civilizations. Some of these researchers have been far out on the fringe, and much of this work has been discredited by archaeologists (for instance, Von Daniken), but it still remains an intriguing and open question. Many point to the work of Sitchin as demonstrating the presence of such effects, while others look to the writings of Brinsley Le Poer Trench.
And there are those who believe that the UFO phenomenon cannot be understood solely or perhaps even at all, with the means of science. Such individuals often are associated with activities such as channelling, or are closely allied with mystical beliefs and sects. In light of the recent Heaven's Gate tragedy, it is clear that one must be very careful when dealing with this area.
The UFO provides sufficiently varied manifestations that certain researchers have specialized in specific types of manifestations. Crash retrievals, abductions, crop circles, and many other areas, both central and peripheral to the UFO phenomenon, occupy their efforts.
A survey of the theories of the UFO phenomenon would be incomplete without a discussion of conspiracies. A commonly accepted ground is that many UFO reports taken at face value appear to be of great potential defense significance to governments. In the US, the government has documented incidents of UFOs violating military and restricted airspace, making close approaches to sensitive areas such as nuclear weapon storage and deployment facilities, and even interfering with defense installations or military aircraft. Documents have been obtained from the US government via the Freedom of Information Act, and are clearly representative of what the government believes to have been actual events. In the late 1980s, the close approach of a UFO to the US / UK air bases near Rendlesham forest led to an alert and investigation by base personnel. In the 1990s, Belgian airspace was violated several times by large triangular objects with incredible performance, whose activities were observed visually, by ground and airborne radar - and intercepts were (unsuccessfully) attempted. The famous destruction of a Korean Air Line 747 passenger aircraft followed close on the heels of a dramatic UFO observation, with radar tracking, by Russian military personnel. US State Department files document the attempted intercept of a UFO by Iranian personnel, who were dissuaded by physical effects that disabled their instruments and weapon systems.
Obviously, a government which received such reports would be remiss in not maintaining research on the phenomenon - on this, even the most conservative researchers seem to agree. When approached on these matters, most governments demonstrate an evasiveness that resembles what would be encountered if making inquiries concerning the disposition of nuclear weapons or aircraft carriers.
Based on this, some researchers have assumed that governments have knowledge of the phenomenon which they are unwilling to make public. Some even go so far as to claim that governments must know what the phenomenon is, or that governments have in their possession remains of occupants and objects, and even that governments are working to back-engineer technology from recovered UFO material. Unfortunately, what evidence exists for these claims is circumstantial, and has never been verified to the level that would be required to give them full credence.
While the nature of the UFO remains a subject for speculation, and, perhaps, eventually, direct scientific testing, one thing is clear - the UFO phenomenon exists, reliable persons see and report UFOs, and the solution to this mystery is vitally needed.
If you would be interested in being part of that solution, contact MUFON.
This site is an archive of the content of the MUFON CT website from the late 1990s. The current MUFON CT organization should be contacted through the MUFON web site.