Is the truth out there? US Congress to hear report on UFOs

Researchers say report is ‘long overdue’

A video grab image obtained on April 28, 2020, shows part of a video taken by Navy pilots showing 'unidentified aerial phenomena'. AFP
A video grab image obtained on April 28, 2020, shows part of a video taken by Navy pilots showing 'unidentified aerial phenomena'. AFP

For decades, Mark Rodegheir has worked on his own dime to scrape together accounts and scientific data on unidentified flying objects, more commonly known as UFOs.

“Nobody gets paid to do UFOs and study UFOs,” said Mr Rodegheir, a statistician who also is the scientific director of the Centre for UFO Studies, a loose coalition of scientists and researchers dedicated to chronicling sightings and gathering information on UFOs.

UFOs have long captivated the popular imagination but have not been given the serious attention many say they deserve, with mainstream science and the government dismissing them as science fiction – until now.

The US Congress will receive in June a report compiled by the director of national intelligence on what the US government refers to as “unidentified aerial phenomena” – government-speak for UFOs.

For Mr Rodeghier, it is a validation of his life’s work.

“It is, in fact, quite satisfying to myself and my colleagues,” he told The National.

“I’m not yet going to leap for joy until we see the results of the report, but certainly, you know, this is great.”

In April 2020, the Pentagon released three videos recorded by US Navy fighter pilots. The videos, which had already been leaked online years before, showed small spherical objects moving across the skies and even entering the crosshairs of some of the US government's most advanced technology.

A pilot can be heard saying in one video: “Look at that thing, dude.”

The Pentagon released the footage after determining it did not reveal any “sensitive capabilities or systems”.

Upon its release, the Pentagon said “the aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterised as ‘unidentified'."

The videos ignited a renewed interest in UFOs that has spread all the way to the US Congress.

Last August, the Pentagon launched a task force dedicated to detecting, analysing and cataloguing "unidentified aerial phenomena".

“We've got an unprecedented situation where instead of the usual denials and debunking, we've got almost official confirmation of the reality of this, and now, quite rightly, of course, Congress is demanding answers and saying, ‘Well, what are we dealing with?’” said Nick Pope, who served as a UFO investigator for Britain's Ministry of Defence from 1991 to 1994.

While the idea of extraterrestrial life is perhaps the most exciting explanation of what was recorded by the pilots, there are more sinister explanations as well.

“Is it our own technology? Is it Russia? Or is it China? Is it something else?" Mr Pope asked.

The US government does not take such questions lightly.

“The Department of Defence and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorised aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report," the Pentagon said.

Some UFOs have later turned out to be objects with an Earthly explanation such as weather balloons, metallic party balloons or drones, all giving off differing radar signatures.

Some sightings could even be highly classified Pentagon prototypes.

It is unknown how much the report to Congress will reveal. An unclassified version will be made public while a more detailed version will remain classified.

UFO researchers like Mr Rodegheir hope the government will be as transparent as possible with the report.

“I'm hoping that this doesn't get into some classified area where you and I and then the public will not be able to know whatever they discover,” he said.

Regardless of what the report reveals, its very existence is a win for many.

“I'm glad that this is happening while I'm still around,” Mr Rodegheir said.

“It's the kind of thing that we've been saying for years, which is simply that the UFO phenomenon is a serious problem. Potentially, it's a scientific problem, potentially an intelligence problem, if in fact there are no aliens who are visiting. And so it deserves to be studied seriously.”

Despite dedicating his life to the subject, Mr Rodegheir said he remains "on the fence” about the existence of extraterrestrial life.

“The bottom line is, we simply don't have the evidence to really make any flat-out assertion about the ultimate origin of the phenomena.”

He hopes that changes in June.

Updated: May 29, 2021 05:39 PM

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