Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
A mid-May congressional hearing added new legitimacy to the idea that the U.S. government has been secretly investigating unidentified flying objects (UFOs). The hearings come as a result of an article published by the New York Times in 2017 that revealed a secret government organization keeping records of UFO sightings, though they are now known as unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs). Since then, two pieces of legislation have passed that require the U.S. government to release information about UAPs they are investigating.
The hearing in May was the first public hearing on the topic since 1969, when the U.S. government supposedly ended “Project Blue Book,” a program started in 1952 that investigated UFOs. We now know that those investigations continued in secret for nearly half a century.
Nevada has been the center of many UAP conspiracy theories thanks to the presence of Area 51, an aircraft research site that was first publicly acknowledged by the CIA in 2013. Key research dates for Area 51 align with government research into UAPs, adding fuel to the fire. Area 51 was first used for top secret aircraft research three years later, when it was selected to test the first-of-its-kind U-2 airplane. Then in 1968, one year before Project Blue Book was canceled, the U.S. government expanded the restricted airspace around Area 51. We now know that this was for testing a stolen Russian fighter plane. The information gathered during that year of testing was used to develop U.S. Navy Top Gun training programs.
The May hearing offers more backing to theories, maybe in large part because public testimony left listeners with more questions than answers. According to the Deputy Director of Navy Intelligence Scott Bray, U.S. aircrafts have had at least 11 “near misses” with UAPs that almost resulted in a collision. Bray went on to say that while many UAPs were simply weather or sensor anomalies, he knew “with certainty” that “a number of these are physical objects.” Statements like these offer just enough evidence for theorists to pounce on, but not enough facts for the public to know anything for certain. The hearing continued behind closed doors, and perhaps we won’t know what was said there for another 50 years.