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Mysterious illuminations. Saucers of evil. Extraterrestrial abductions. Between 1947 and 1969, during the height of the Cold War, Project Blue Book, a tiny, top-secret Air Force crew, received over 12,000 reports of UFO encounters. Their objective? To conduct scientific investigations into the occurrences and assess if any constituted a danger to national security. The following are some of their most intriguing instances, as well as other significant UFO experiences.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s an… alien?

Are we the only ones? Have extraterrestrial spaceships been buzzing through the Earth’s skies? These are the issues posed in the United States government’s latest study on unexplained aerial phenomena — the word used by the government to describe to what many of us refer to as unidentified flying objects, or UFOs.

Thus far, it seems as if the report’s conclusions will leave UFO enthusiasts and conspiracy theorists disappointed. Officials and experts in the United States who analyzed video footage from US Navy aircraft and other documents believe the evidence does not point to extraterrestrial technology — but they also cannot explain the strange phenomenon.

According to intelligence authorities, the flying vehicles were not manufactured in the United States.

One of the report’s few conclusive findings is that the military’s encounters with craft – objects with unique flying capabilities — were not the result of secret projects sponsored by the US government or the Pentagon.

This conclusion corroborates prior claims made by Luis Elizondo, the former director of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. He talked with NPR in 2017 after the revelation of previously secret footage obtained by a camera mounted on a United States Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet.

When UFOs gained legitimacy

Interest in the possibility that alien beings are visiting Earth from other planets has risen dramatically in recent years, especially after the Pentagon confirmed that several videos depicting objects moving at incredible speeds and with remarkable agility did indeed originate from official US Navy sources.

In 2017, revelations of a classified Pentagon program designed to investigate occurrences of inexplicable aircraft and phenomena sparked public curiosity. Additionally, it lent fresh respectability and meaning to a field of inquiry that had been characterized for decades by conjecture — and clichés of UFO enthusiasts wearing tinfoil hats.

According to reports, the Pentagon launched an early version of its Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program in 2007. It was then supported by Congress, and Elizondo took over in 2010. However, the Defense Department put an end to it in 2012.

The Department of Defense formally disclosed film from the on-board cameras of Navy fighter pilots in April 2020.

The department said that it was releasing the tapes to dispel any doubts about the authenticity of previously circulated recordings.