Ex-intel officer testifies in US Congress on UFOs: Sightings, name changes, and explanations over the years

On Wednesday, July 26, former US intelligence officer and Air Force veteran David Grusch testified before a US Congress subcommittee, asserting that the government is trying to hide evidence of “non-human” Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and that it may even have alien bodies in its possession. This assertion has been refuted by the US Department of Defence.Grusch claimed to have seen unidentified objects off the Eastern shore in the middle of the 2010s while working at the National Reconnaissance Office as a member of the Department of Defense’s Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena Task Force.Also this week, The New York Times detailed how Harvard University’s Avi Loeb, a theoretical astrophysicist, and Amir Siraj, a student there in 2014, discovered a “fireball from space” that had crashed into the sea close to Papua New Guinea’s coast in 2014. After leading an expedition to recover fireball remnants, Loeb asserted in June of this year that he might have discovered proof of extraterrestrial life, despite the fact that many scientists remained sceptical.Long-standing human curiosity with celestial objects has sparked frenzied debate about their nature and origins. But how did contemporary UFO sightings start, and what makes them distinct from concepts like UAPs?UFOs are “the popular term for any apparent aerial phenomenon whose cause cannot be easily or immediately identified by the observer,” according to the US Air Force Declassification Office.It claims that in 1952, the Air Force was the first to use the term, and that it “initially defined UFOs as those objects that remain unidentified after scrutiny by expert investigators.” Although unidentified flying objects (UFOs) were the majority of what the term “UFO” initially meant, it is now more commonly used to refer to any kind of unidentifiable item.The US government and society as a whole have frequently given the phenomenon an inordinate amount of attention, despite the fact that it is not the only nation that reports such sightings. In a 2021 interview with CBS, the former US President Barack Obama stated, “What is real, and I’m truly being serious here, is that there is footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are, that we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory…They lacked a clearly discernible pattern. In light of this, I believe that efforts to learn more about it are still taken seriously.Project Blue Book is an illustration of how the government gets involved in such operations. Approximately 40 years later, Time Magazine wrote about it: “From 1952 through 1969, more than 12,000 reports were collated and either classed as “identified” — explained by astronomical, atmospheric, or artificial phenomenon — or “unidentified,” which made up just 6% of the tales. Government officials terminated the programme and put a halt to the research because of the meagre percentage and general decline in sightings.Another recent report from the US government stated in 2021 that the scant information on UAPs is “largely inconclusive,” despite some patterns being noticed, such as the fact that most of these sightings tended to occur around US testing and training sites.The research emphasised that these items do not necessarily indicate extraterrestrial origins; they are merely unidentified and may be anything from birds to balloons to drone-like things to the product of natural atmospheric phenomena (ice crystals, moisture), or even hostile foreign enemy systems.Notably, the Cold War had already begun when there was a surge in interest immediately following World War 2. The ideological and material conflict between the capitalist USA and the communist USSR, which never culminated in a direct ‘hot’ war between them, resulted in a substantial government concentration on defence against Soviet ‘threats’. Unidentified objects in US airspace became a worry in this situation.It originates from the earliest recorded modern sighting of this kind. According to a History Channel article, American businessman and aviation enthusiast Kenneth Arnold reported seeing a group of nine fast moving objects in a V configuration in 1947 while flying his tiny plane near Mount Rainier in Washington.According to news reports at the time, Arnold described the object as being crescent-shaped, flying at a high rate of speed, and behaving strangely—”like saucers skipping on water.” The name “flying saucer” was inadvertently coined in the newspaper account that followed because it said that the objects were saucer-shaped.The infamous Roswell incident the same year, when a rancher discovered some wreckage close to an Army airfield in Roswell, New Mexico, came after this. While the US military released a statement denying it was anything more than a weather balloon, some local newspapers claimed it was the wreckage of a flying saucer. When military personnel pulled dummies with metal “bones” and rubber “skin” from the debris, conspiracy theories gained momentum. They were described by the Air Force as “dummy drops” meant to evaluate the safety of pilots in an aircraft.According to the US Air Force, UAP, or Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, is a newer, larger name that is employed to avoid “the confusion and speculative associations that have become attached to UFO”. The Pentagon refers to UFOs as “unidentified anomalous phenomena” (UAP).The phrase is currently also used by NASA. In June 2022, it announced that it would appoint a study team to look into UAPs “from a scientific perspective,” concentrating on identifying the data that is now available, the best way to gather more data in the future, and how “NASA can use that data to advance the scientific understanding of UAPs.”

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