Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?

Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?

Those are questions being asked by a team of high-ranking former U.S. defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The team has been investigating a wide range of these sightings—and advocating more serious government attention.

Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”

Throughout history, unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) have shocked, frightened and fascinated sky watchers. And in the last century, more than a few have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called them “foo fighters”: strange orange flying lights by the French-German border. During the Korean War, some soldiers claimed a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with what, to some, resembled radiation poisoning.

Less known: In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UAPs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites to active nuclear naval fleets.

“All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” says investigative journalist George Knapp, who has studied the UAP-nuclear connection for more than 30 years. Knapp has gathered documentation by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the departments of defense and energy.

“There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of a covert team of UAP researchers operating inside the Department of Defense. The program, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), received $22 million of the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget in 2012, The New York Times reported. Elizondo now helps lead To the Stars’ investigations.


The UFO-nuclear connection began at the dawn of the atomic age.

Nuclear-adjacent sightings go back decades, says Robert Hastings, a UFO researcher and author of the book UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites. Hastings says he’s interviewed more than 160 veterans who have witnessed strange things in the skies around nuclear sites.

“You have objects being tracked on radar performing at speeds that no object on earth can perform,” Hastings says. “You have eyewitness [military] personnel. You have jet pilots.” Witnesses to these incidents are often highly trained personnel with top security clearances. In recent years, their reports are being corroborated by sophisticated technology.

In late 1948, “green fireballs” were reported in the skies near atomic laboratories in Los Alamos and Sandia, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was first developed and tested. A declassified FBI document from 1950 mentions “flying saucers” measuring almost 50 feet in diameter near the Los Alamos labs. And Knapp has interviewed more than a dozen workers from the Nevada desert atomic test site, where scores of A-bombs were detonated in the post-WWII years. He says they told him UFO activity was so commonplace there, employees were assigned to monitor the activity.

In the 1960s and ’70s, repeated UFO sightings emerged at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, a storage site for nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). At one such alleged sighting in 1967, former Air Force Capt. Robert Salas says several of those missiles became inoperative at the same time base security reported seeing a glowing red object, about 30 feet in diameter, hovering over the facility. Salas, who commanded ICBMs as a launch officer and later worked in the aerospace industry and at the Federal Aviation Administration, told CNN the “missiles began going into what's called a ‘no-go condition,’ or unlaunchable.”

Observers can only speculate about the origin of these unexplained phenomena. But the repeated proximity to sensitive defense sites connected to our nation’s most powerful weapons has raised the question of whether they might originate from adversaries—known or unknown.

READ MORE: Are UFOs A Threat to National Security? This Ex-U.S. Official Thinks They Warrant Investigation

The Bentwaters-Rendlesham Forest incident

In late December 1980, air-traffic controllers encountered something alarming near Royal Air Force Bentwaters in England. Used by the U.S. Air Force as a European foothold during the Cold War, Bentwaters housed a secret stash of nuclear weapons in 25 fortified underground bunkers.

“We looked up on the radar scope and saw something…not like anything I’d seen before,” Ivan Barker, a U.S. Air Force air-traffic controller working that night, told Our Site.

Barker, a master sergeant who was second in charge at the facility, says he was an 18-year veteran at that point and knew “about every aircraft in the U.S., NATO and the Soviet bloc.” This object, he says, shocked him and his two colleagues that night with its remarkable speed and maneuverability. On radar, it covered 120 miles in a matter of seconds, he said: “It had to be moving Mach 5, 6, 7 or 8—faster than anything other than possibly a missile.”

As he looked up from the radar to view it directly, the craft moved into close range, slowed and then stopped over the base’s water tower: “Like a helicopter hovering, except with a helicopter you get movement up and down. This was stationary. It was between about 1,500 and 2,000 feet high. The thing was…at least a city block…in diameter.”

Barker says it was shaped like a giant basketball, with portholes around the center, from which lights were emanating outward. “I was shocked… There was nothing aerodynamic about it. Basketballs don’t fly.”

It stopped over the water tower for only a few seconds, he said, before reversing course and speeding back the way it came in: “It was like—swish!—it’s gone.”

Barker didn’t report the sighting to his superiors. “You don’t understand what the Air Force did to people who reported UFOs,” he says.

Barker’s story dovetails with that of Col. Charles Halt, Bentwaters’ deputy commander at the time. Halt led a patrol that night to investigate strange colorful lights seen descending into nearby Rendlesham Forest. Halt described to Elizondo what he saw from inside the forest: a red light moving horizontally though the trees, "obviously under some kind of intelligent control.” A laser-like beam, he said, “landed 10-15 feet away from us. I was literally in shock.”

Then the beam’s source quickly left, flying north toward the base, says Halt, who audiotaped the incident at the time. “We could hear chatter on the radios that the beams went down into the weapons storage area.”

Later, his commander played the audio for a general, who dismissed the need for further investigation. They were loath to get involved, says Halt.

READ MORE: These 5 UFO Traits, Seen by Navy Fighters, Defy Explanation

Navy sightings in the Atlantic and the Pacific

In recent years, sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena have emerged from America’s nuclear navy.

F-18 fighter pilots from the nuclear-powered USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group saw UAPs almost daily for several months between the summer of 2014 and the spring of 2015 while executing training maneuvers along the Eastern seaboard between Virginia and Florida, witnesses told Elizondo.

“Wherever we were, they were there,” says Ryan Graves, an active-duty F-18 fighter pilot from the USS Roosevelt, who holds a degree in aerospace engineering.

The objects appeared in three shapes, Graves says—some were discs, others looked like a cube inside a sphere, while smaller round objects flew together in formation. All lacked visible engines or exhaust systems. Some tilted, mid-flight, like spinning tops, as seen on an infrared video released by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2017. Graves and another F-18 pilot, Danny Accoin, confirm that video, along with one other released by the government, had been shot by their fellow Roosevelt pilots while in the air.

WATCH: Declassified: UFOs Captured on Video by U.S. Fighter Pilots

One UAP, Grave says, almost caused a terrifying collision by zipping dangerously between two planes. An aviation flight-safety report was filed, he says, but never investigated.

Graves says the unidentified objects reappeared once the Roosevelt had deployed to its mission in the Persian Gulf.

“It’s hard to find a prosaic explanation for a carrier battle group being shadowed by unidentified aircraft all the way across the Atlantic, to an area of operations overseas in the Middle East,” says Chris Mellon, former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence during the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, who now serves as an integral part of the To The Stars team. “It makes an extremely compelling case for the existence of technologies we didn’t think were possible.”

Leon Golub, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told The New York Times there may indeed be several “low-probability” prosaic explanations for the Roosevelt sightings. They include “bugs in the [radar’s] code for the imaging and display systems, atmospheric effects and reflections [and] neurological overload from multiple inputs during high-speed flight.”

Still, the Roosevelt reports echo those made by Navy pilots undergoing training exercises on the other side of the country. In November 2004 pilots and radar operators from the USS Nimitz carrier fleet saw a 40-foot long tic-tac shaped object flying just above the ocean while flying 100 miles off the coast of California near San Diego. When F-18 fighter jets were scrambled to approach the object, it accelerated, easily outrunning the supersonic Navy craft.

READ MORE: When Top Gun Pilots Tangled with a Baffling Tic-Tac-Shaped UFO

Increasing attention to the topic

Whereas earlier reports were career-killers for military personnel, there is an increasing openness in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill to taking these sightings seriously as potential threats. In April 2019, the U.S. Navy announced that it was updating its guidelines for how pilots and personnel should report unexplained aerial phenomena—making it easier for military members to report sightings to superiors without facing professional stigma and backlash. And Congress, beginning with former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, has taken more interest in being briefed.

George Knapp says that’s more activity than he has seen in three decades. He, and many others, think it’s overdue.

“At the facilities where we were first designing and building nuclear weapons…at the places where we were processing the fuel…at the facilities where we were testing the weapons…at the bases where we deployed those weapons, on the ships…the nuclear submarines… All those places, all the people working there have seen these things,” Knapp says.

“Are they all crazy?” he continued. “Because if they are, they shouldn't have their hands on nuclear weapons.”

WATCH: Full episodes of Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation online now and tune in for all-new episodes Saturdays at 10/9c.

The Truth Has Not Always Been Out There

Rather than explaining when U.F.O. sightings were really just top-secret planes, the government has sometimes allowed public eagerness about the possibility of aliens to take hold.

WASHINGTON — In the summer of 1947, a top-secret U.S. military balloon developed to spy on the Soviet nuclear program crashed in the desert near Roswell, N.M. The military gave only incomplete accounts of what happened, sowing decades of conspiracy theories (and a tourism industry) that built up around Roswell as the site of an alien crash landing.

Since then, Americans’ passion for alien visitation has proved tough to shake, even when the evidence is clear that no spaceships have touched down or crash landed. After the Cold War, a pair of Air Force reports that aimed to come clean about the experiments near Roswell did little to debunk any belief in the potential for aliens.

Why Are So Many UFOs Seen Near U.S. Military Bases?

Key point: Secret prototypes are all around us.

From 2007 to 2012, a small team of military investigators looked into sightings of unidentified flying objects—yes, UFOs—from an office deep inside the Pentagon. The Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, championed by former U.S. senator Harry Reid, paid contractors to analyze close encounters between military pilots and mysterious airborne objects.

Some of those close encounters probably involved secret military prototype front-line pilots didn’t know exist. Others, however, remain unexplained — and could be revolutionary for human civilization.

“Just because something’s unexplained doesn’t mean that it’s extraterrestrial, of course, but I never say never,” Nick Pope, who ran the British military’s own UFO investigative unit in the early 1990s, told me via email. “Extraterrestrial visitation might be unlikely, but if a single case turned out to be true, it would be a game-changer.”

One 2004 incident, in particular, has befuddled skeptics. Two U.S. Navy fighter pilots flying off the coast of southern California tracked an airliner-size, cigar-shaped object that appeared to hover and maneuver in ways that seem to exceed conventional aeronautics. “I have no idea what I saw,” David Fravor, one of the pilots, told The New York Times.

“There are still those observations that defy explanation—observations by highly trained individuals such as fighter or airline pilots who would recognize aircraft shapes and aircraft movements,” Luis Elizondo, the head of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program and related UFO efforts until his October resignation, told me via email.

“The basic instinct of intelligence personnel looking at the most convincing UFO sightings is to assume that they’re secret prototype aircraft or drones, developed either by another nation, or by another part of the government—but in a situation where the information is so compartmentalized nobody else can get access,” Pope said.

“Another theory is that some of these sightings are attributable to some sort of atmospheric plasma phenomenon that science doesn’t yet fully understand,” Pope added, using the scientific term for electrified air.

“Many UFO sightings in the southwest United States during the 1980s were actually secret advanced military aircraft such as the Lockheed F-117 and Northrop Grumman B-2,” Elizondo said.

There has been no shortage of rumored or confirmed, high-performance military prototypes in recent years that could account for UFO sightings. The U.S. Air Force secretly developed the RQ-170 stealth spy drone in the early 2000s, finally admitting to its existence only after a photographer spotted one at an airfield in Afghanistan in 2007. It’s unclear whether sightings of the RQ-170 explain any recent UFO reports.

More recently, the Air Force has been working on a bigger and ever stealthier spy drone called the RQ-180, along with the new radar-evading B-21 bomber. In 2014, a mysterious, wedge-shaped aircraft—possibly an early technology demonstrator for the B-21 program—was photographed flying over Kansas.

The military and the defense industry have also been hard at work on so-called “hypersonic” aircraft and space-planes capable of flying at speed exceeding Mach 5. Some of those efforts are public. Others, such as Lockheed Martin’s self-funded SR-72 hypersonic spy plane, remain cloaked in secrecy.

The abundance of secret prototypes plying American skies gives plenty of cover to government investigators and skeptical outsiders whose impulse is to dismiss possible evidence of alien life. “That said, there are those in government—including, clearly, some of the intelligence officials who worked in the AATIP—who are prepared to think the unthinkable, and say that some of these things might be extraterrestrial,” Pope said.

The 2004 video seems unexplainable now. But remember, many similarly mysterious UFO sightings in the past turned out to be military prototypes. Maybe aliens really are buzzing Planet Earth. But if history is any guide, it’s more likely the Pentagon’s own advanced aircraft that are making surprise appearances in front of baffled pilots.

Reporting UFO Sightings to the U.S. Navy Just Got Easier

Back in the 1950s, if you saw an unidentified flying object, you could fill out one of the U.S. Air Force’s handy UFO questionnaires for Project Blue Book. That government program dissolved in 1969, but the military has remained interested in UFO sightings ever since. In April 2019, the U.S. Navy confirmed it is updating its guidelines for how pilots and personnel should report what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” or UAP.

“There have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated air space in recent years,” the Navy said in a statement to POLITICO, the first outlet to report the news. “[T]he Navy is updating and formalizing the process by which reports of any such suspected incursions can be made to the cognizant authorities.”

Basically, the Navy wants to create a formal process for pilots and other personnel to report flying objects they can’t explain so that someone can investigate. The Navy seems less concerned that UAPs are a sign of alien life, and more concerned that they’re unauthorized aircrafts from a foreign nation. This is why the U.S. started investigating UFO sightings in the late 1940s, too: there was concern that people were actually spotting secret Soviet planes.

The Navy’s announcement about its UAP reporting guidelines comes a year and a half after The New York Times revealed the Pentagon had a secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program from 2007 to 2012. Luis Elizondo, the former Pentagon official who led the classified program and is featured in HISTORY’s new show Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation, resigned because he felt the Pentagon wasn’t doing enough to identify and combat UAPs. Elizondo has said he thinks they could be a threat to national security. (Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation premieres on May 31 on HISTORY.)

The short-lived Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program was able to run as long as it did because it had support from prominent members of Congress like Senator Harry Reid. Similarly, the Navy’s recent UAP updates may have been a response to Congressional interests in tracking them.

“In response to requests for information from Congressional members and staff, Navy officials have provided a series of briefings by senior Naval Intelligence officials as well as aviators who reported hazards to aviation safety,” the Navy said in its statement to POLITICO. It did not, however, identify which members of Congress had requested the briefings.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

Why Are So Many UFO Sightings Reported in the USA?

In all of American folklore and legend, UFO sightings hold a special place in the American heart. Accounts of flying saucers and even extraterrestrial beings are legion, and they have populated many an Internet forum and casual conversation since at least the 1950s.

But recently, the Pentagon has gotten in on the UFO game. A recent report from the Pentagon details a reported sighting of a flying “40-foot-long Tic Tac,” which was spotted by no less than retired Commander David Fravor. Fravor’s sighting was one of many that made up the Pentagon’s recent “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.”

The Pentagon is not alone in believing, as former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo put it, that “we may not be alone.” A 1997 poll on the 50th anniversary of the Roswell incident (in which U.S. Army Air Force balloons crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico) found that an incredible 80% of Americans believe that the American government is covering up its knowledge of alien life forms.

This number goes a long way in explaining the thousands and thousands of UFO sightings and alien abductions that have been reported to the U.S. Government over the years.

The government has taken this more or less seriously in the time since Roswell. From 1947 through 1969, the U.S. Government investigated 12,618 reported UFO sightings as part of its so-called “Project Blue Book,” which found that 701 of these were “unidentified,” with no further explanation given. However, citing a lack of evidence that these sightings were a potential danger to national security, the program was shut down in 1969 as too costly to be justifiable.

The “Blue Book” was launched because of Roswell itself and the widespread skepticism of the government’s claim that a weather balloon was what had been spotted over the site.

And then, of course, there is Area 51, a mysterious location in Nevada which alien conspiracy theorists believe is a site where the U.S. Government hides alien bodies and UFOs. In 2013, declassified documents revealed that Area 51 was actually a secret military site used to test aerial surveillance and needed to be classified to be kept hidden from the Soviets, rather than due to any alien presence.

Another fascinating encounter occurred in 1967 when numerous Air Force pilots reported seeing UFOs hovering over nuclear missile sites in Montana. “These gentlemen believe that this planet is being visited by beings from another world, who for whatever reason have taken an interest in the nuclear arms race which began at the end of World War II,” a UFO researcher elaborated.

Why Have There Been So Many UFO Sightings Near Nuclear Facilities?

It started in the 1940s, near A-bomb development sites. More recently, something has been stalking nuclear carrier strike groups.

Why are so many UFOs being reported near nuclear facilities—and why isn’t there more urgency on the part of the government to assess their potential national-security threat?

Those are questions being asked by a team of high-ranking former U.S. defense and intelligence officials, aerospace-industry veterans, academics and others associated with To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science. The team has been investigating a wide range of these sightings—and advocating more serious government attention.

Their investigations are the subject of HISTORY’s limited series “Unidentified.”

Throughout history, unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) have shocked, frightened and fascinated sky watchers. And in the last century, more than a few have been reported in military contexts. In late World War II, U.S. airmen called them “foo fighters”: strange orange flying lights by the French-German border. During the Korean War, some soldiers claimed a blue-green light emitting “pulsing rays” made their whole battalion sick with what, to some, resembled radiation poisoning.

Less known: In the last 75 years, high-ranking U.S. military and intelligence personnel have also reported UAPs near sites associated with nuclear power, weaponry and technology—from the early atomic-bomb development and test sites to active nuclear naval fleets.

“All of the nuclear facilities—Los Alamos, Livermore, Sandia, Savannah River—all had dramatic incidents where these unknown craft appeared over the facilities and nobody knew where they were from or what they were doing there,” says investigative journalist George Knapp, who has studied the UAP-nuclear connection for more than 30 years. Knapp has gathered documentation by filing Freedom of Information Act requests to the departments of defense and energy.

“There seems to be a lot of correlation there,” says Lue Elizondo, who from 2007 to 2012 served as director of a covert team of UAP researchers operating inside the Department of Defense. he program, called received $22 million of the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget in 2012, The New York Times reported. Elizondo now helps lead To the Stars’ investigations.

More UFOs Than Ever Before

America had its head broken open during World War II, and out came the visions. Visions of global power, infinite markets, ideological struggle, and exotic flying machines. It’s not clear if the number of UFO sightings actually spiked in the years that followed or if it was just our imagination, but something changed. What had been a trickle of encounters dating back to the pioneering days of aviation became a torrent. Often described as saucers, these noiseless, shimmery machines were seen above highways and wheat fields and supermarkets in Forth Worth, Texas Great Falls, Montana Monmouth County, New Jersey Salem, Massachusetts Carson Sink, Nevada Washington, D.C. Miami, Florida Norfolk, Virginia—the list goes on and on—in the late forties and early fifties. The timing makes it impossible to consider such phenomena without also considering the cataclysm that, more than any set of founding documents, gave birth to our colossal, unknowable, world-striding modern nation. In other words, before you can grapple with UFOs, you have to ask yourself: what the hell did that war do to America?

Dreamers have seen things in the heavens since time out of mind. You can go back to 228 B.C., when the Roman historian Livy recognized portents of doom in the “phantom ships” he saw “gleaming in the sky.” Or when Pliny the Elder, an ancient scribe, recorded something that sounds like a Steven Spielberg UFO: a spark that “fell from a star and grew as it descended until it appeared to be the size of the Moon.” Such visions, which usually came in times of stress, were taken as a sign from God. Ezekiel’s fiery wheel, witnessed on the road to Babylon, was possibly a flying saucer. People have always had visions, but the language changed. In the religious age, it was angels and demons. In the scientific age, it’s intergalactic dream machines, hot rods cooked up by gearheads from across the inky vacuum. As the holy book says, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.”

The Germans put the first jet plane in the air in 1939. The first rocket that could touch space went up in 1942. Called the V2, its target was not space but London. Chuck Yeager, flying the bullet-shaped Bell X-1, broke the speed of sound (767 mph) in October 1947. Ten years later, the Soviet’s launched the first artificial satellite. That was followed by the first man in space, the first man in orbit, the first man on the moon. One result of the aerospace boom was UFO mania. If we could do it, it was only logical to think aliens could do it, too. Roswell, New Mexico, where the air force was said to have recovered a flying saucer and a crew of dead aliens in 1946, was just the most famous encounter—there were hundreds of others during the Cold War. In 1949, government officials were said to have captured the crew of an alien craft that set down, in the cool of a desert evening, on a plateau in Aztec, New Mexico.

What explains this sudden intergalactic traffic?

Some suggest it was the first atomic bomb, which was detonated as part of the Trinity test, in White Sands, New Mexico, at 5:35 A.M. on July 16, 1945. According to this view, the blast sent a shock wave across the universe. It registered in distant solar systems as deep-sea earthquakes register with us. It was a clarion call. It said: DANGER! It meant the previously harmless human race had gotten ahold of matches that could immolate all of creation.

In 1952, the United States tested the first hydrogen bomb, which was a thousand times more powerful than the atomic bomb. The neutron bomb, which kills people but leaves buildings standing, was developed soon after. In each instance, the Russians followed. We were in the midst of a nuclear arms race, and no one knew what sort of weapon would come next. It made sense that the aliens would want to keep a reptilian eye on the situation. That’s why so many sightings happened in proximity to military installations. These were usually circular craft, whispery and huge, floating with no visible means of propulsion. “In 1967, a glowing red oval-shaped object hovered over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, and all 10 of the facility’s underground nuclear missiles became disabled almost simultaneously while the U.F.O. was present, according to interviews with witnesses and official government reports,” the New York Times reported. On October 23, 2010, a similar ship appeared without warning above Warren Air Force Base, a missile facility outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. As the craft lingered above the silos, the nuclear warheads went off-line one by one. On its departure, that UFO moved in a manner familiar from many stories—at incredible speed, bounding across the sky like the light of a laser pointer.

If you believe such stories are true, you also believe that our inept, inefficient government has maintained a nearly perfect cover-up across thirteen presidential administrations. Because they’d have to know—there would be pictures, eye-witness accounts, alien hardware, alien DNA.

Bob Lazar, a possible nuclear physicist and propulsion expert most recently known from the Netflix documentary Bob Lazar: Area 51 and Flying Saucers, has, since 1989, claimed that he worked on an alien spaceship in a classified facility called S-4, which sits astride Area 51 in the Nevada desert. He says he’d been hired to reverse engineer the ship’s propulsion system after other scientists had failed. The higher-ups hoped Lazar’s hobby (he goofs with engines, strapping jets on bicycles and whatnot) would suit him for such a task. Lazar said he counted nine alien ships in the desert hangars, though he was allowed to work on only one, a small saucer that functioned, as if by magic, without batteries, wires, or tubes. When various pieces of the engine were placed in proximity, it hummed to life. Lazar believed these were the components of a nuclear reactor powered by an element then unknown on earth: element 115, which, once dismissed as fantastical, was synthesized into existence in a Moscow lab in 2003. (Lazar believes a scientist who worked on the project before him died from exposure to the nuclear core.) Now and then, says Lazar, pilots took the craft into the sky above Area S-4. Lazar’s description of how they moved match the testimony from many UFO sightings. He believes the ships, ancient relics unearthed in the course of an archeological dig, travel via warp—that is, they create a wave in space/time, then ride down the face of that wave like a surfer. This would explain the silence of the crafts, the way they seemed to roll, turn on a dime, jump across the sky.

Lazar casts himself as a whistle blower. He wants the world to know. Why the cover-up? Two reasons. One: G-men fear the confirmation of an alien presence will cause panic. To realize that we are not alone, have never been alone, that the U.S. Congress is not the world’s most powerful legislative body and cannot protect you, would cause societal breakdown. Governments would fall, markets crash. Two: they want to keep the tech for themselves. The first nation to crack alien propulsion will rule the planet.

How do we know there’s a cover-up?

Because the government interviews witnesses, studies incidents, writes up findings, then marks it all classified. If there were no aliens, why spend millions studying the phenomena? People believe in witchcraft, yet there are no congressional subcommittees on warlocks. The FBI task force known as Project Blue Book (the real-life X-Files) began investigating flying saucers in 1952. It was the task force that swapped the definitive term “flying saucer” for the anodyne “Unidentified Flying Object,” which, having been tainted by fifty years of lunacy, is itself in the process of being replaced. “There’s a new name,” Hillary Clinton said during a 2016 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. “It’s unexplained aerial phenomenon. UAP. That’s the latest nomenclature.”

Various heads of Project Blue Book came in as debunkers but left as agnostics, if not outright believers. The FBI explained away many sightings as hoaxes or confusions, but a percentage defied understanding. Under the leadership of astronomer J. Allen Hynek, Project Blue Book investigated 12,618 UFO sightings. Most were easily dismissed, but 701 could never be explained. In a briefing, Major General John Samford, the Air Force’s director of intelligence, told the FBI that it was “not entirely impossible that the objects sighted may possibly be ships from another planet.”

Project Blue Book was discontinued in 1970, at which point, assumedly, the U.S. government exited the UFO game. But according to the New York Times, which broke the news on its front page, the Feds had in fact carried on the work under new leadership and new names. The Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, funded at the urging of then Nevada Senator Harry Reid, looked into a handful of sightings, with special attention paid to a series of encounters between Navy fighter jets and UFOs. “The strange objects, one of them like a spinning top moving against the wind, appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015, high in the skies over the East Coast,” the Times reported on May 26, 2019. “Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.”

The craft, as described by Navy pilots and captured in gunsight videos, moved in just the way Bob Lazar had described: great speed with seemingly little effort. On a transcript, one pilot, sounding more than a little like Elvis, says to another, “Wow, what is that, man? Look at it fly!”

Fighter pilots do not tend to be of the muddle-headed variety. They are cynical, cool, and realistic. In other words, such reports are hard to dismiss. And yet, for whatever reason, I do. My relationship to UFOs is like my relationship to God. I want to believe, but find it hard. I don’t know why. Belief in UFOs is really no stranger than any other sort of belief, no stranger than a belief in prophets or ancient codes. But I just don’t feel it. I wish I could see one for myself, as I wish I could see the Virgin Mary floating above the yellow roses in my backyard. When I said this to my neighbor, who runs a blog called I Saw One Too, he shook his head sadly and said, “No you don’t. You really don’t.”

The experience undermined him in some way, made him feel cast out and disbelieved people glaze over when he talks about it, yet he feels the need to talk about it. He’d been in the military when he saw the UFO. When I asked if it was possible that he’d seem a secret new military weapon, he said, “I’m as sure that what I saw was from another planet as I am sure that that is a bench.” (We were standing next to a bench.)

If we were being visited, I think we’d know, that’s all. I don’t think there’d be any doubt. Hiding it would be like Columbus hiding his “discovery” of the New World.

The answer can be found in our political history.

The spike in UFO sightings began after the Second World War and continued through the Cold War, when people were scared—scared of external invasion, scared of internal subversion. It’s natural that this fear would be objectified, turned into visions of otherworldly menace, turned into aliens, turned into silver ships, a blue light in the woods.

What about all the sightings near military installations?

Like I asked my neighbor: isn’t it possible that people were seeing experimental aircraft, the test flights of futuristic planes? Bob Lazar’s Area S-2 is near the testing ground of the stealth bomber. If you were driving at night from Barstow to Las Vegas and spotted that thing flying over the desert, what would you think?

But the big thing, the event that triggered the age of the UFO, was the detonation of the first A-bomb in New Mexico. The blast did send out a beacon, only it went from us to us. We were amazed at what we’d accomplished. Turning the atom into a bomb … people just knew it was a bad thing. We’d brought a new kind of evil into the world. In aliens, we are seeing ourselves through a glass darkly.

David Lynch, who deals in hidden worlds, conspiracies, and what adults get up to in the dark, is maybe the only American artist to express the importance of this moment in his work—the bomb changed everything. His show Twin Peaks centers on an FBI agent following up an investigation that began in the Project Blue Book days. The crux of the story comes in the eighth episode of season three (officially titled Twin Peaks, The Return) which aired on Showtime in 2017. In it, we see the creation of the new postatomic world, how it unleashed forces of good and evil on a formerly peaceful town (call it fifties America). The sequence opens with a title card: July 16, 1945, 5:29 A.M., White Sands, New Mexico. Then the countdown, then the bright light—the so-called flash-burn characteristic of the A-bomb, during which energy becomes radiant heat and light—then the explosion.

Physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi, who was in the desert to witness the test, called it “the brightest light I have ever seen or anyone has ever seen. It blasted it pounced it bored its way right through you. It was a vision which was seen with more than the eye. It was seen to last forever … altogether it lasted two seconds. Finally, it was over, diminishing, and we all looked toward the place where the bomb had been there was an enormous ball of fire which grew and grew and it rolled as it grew. It went up into the air, in yellow flashes and into scarlet and green. It looked menacing. It seemed to come toward one. A new thing had been born, a new control, a new understanding of man, which man had acquired over nature.”

Lynch takes his camera inside the mushroom cloud, where those two seconds become eternity. We see the creation of a new universe within, or the rip in the fabric that opens a portal to the dark lodge that’s been there all along.

It’s all about technology. Knowing what we’ve done to the universe makes us imagine what a species with superior technology might do to us. Every alien invasion movie can be read as an expression of colonial anxiety—it’s about the fate of the indigenous people with the viewer put in their position. It’s all about the speed of change. It happened too quickly. In the span of a single human life. Take, for example, Henry Stimson, Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of war. Stimson was the one who told Harry Truman about the atomic bomb (the vice president had been kept in the dark) when FDR died. Stimson, who was seventy-seven at the time who hated the bomb and argued against using it on Japan who, when he lost that argument, took Kyoto off the target list, as he’d been in the city before the war and knew it to be beautiful who spent time as a child with his great-grandmother, who in her childhood had been told stories by George Washington. That’s it. One life that connects the birth of the nation and its first war, fought with muskets and icy river crossings, to the atomic bomb, which can vanish islands and obliterate cities. When the first bomb detonated, Robert Oppenheimer, who led the Manhattan Project, quoted the Bhagavad Gita, saying, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” It’s the hysteria of the modern. Too much, too fast. It’d make anyone see aliens.

Rich Cohen is the author of The Last Pirate of New York: A Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation.

You Might Also Like

UFOs ‘shut down 10 nuke missiles at US base & may have been alerted to humanity by first atomic bomb blasts’

UFOs allegedly shut down ten nuclear missiles in a bizarre incident at a US military base - and the global phenomena may have been triggered by the first atomic bomb tests in the 1940s, it has been claimed.

Strange objects in the sky are under intense focus as the US to release an intelligence report ordered by Congress on the issue after a flurry of leaked videos showing close encounters with warships and fighter planes.

Gary Heseltine, vice president of ICER, a new organisation set up ahead of the Pentagon report to call for full disclosure and an end to the stigma on the topic, believes the UFO story starts with man's first nuke bomb tests in 1945.

And he points to the incredible tale of Captain Robert Salas, a former US nuclear launch officer, who went public with an extraordinary claim - stating in 1967 a UFO appeared at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Salas claims that ten of the US's nuclear Minuteman missiles that he was overseeing inexplicably moved into the "no-go" setting - meaning they could not be launched even if the order was given.

The base allegedly took a day to bring the weapons back online - and they could not find any physical damage or explanation for the sudden problem with the missiles.

Mr Heseltine told The Sun Online: "It is likely that when the US detonated the first atomic bomb that it literally sent shockwaves out into space and alerted other civilisations that life on earth has evolved technologically to the point that it could split the atom and create atomic fusion.

"From that point on it seems that UFOs began to show up near US military installations and worldwide."

Dismissed as a conspiracy theory for decades, former US defence officials, sitting politicians, and former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton have all acknowledged there is something unusual going on with UFOs.

Now often referred to as UAPs - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - questions are being asked if the objects caught on film are super advanced drones, secret military technology, or hoaxes & camera tricks.

And then there is the final option - which is reportedly being seriously considered as part of the UFO report which is due for release within the next week - is that they objects are alien in origin.

And there appears to be an intrinsic link between the UFOs and mankind's nukes with many recent US military sightings happening near nuclear-powered aircraft carriers or submarines.

Former US defence officials have also claimed there are instances where UFOs have invaded the airspace around secret US nuclear sites and "interfered" with nuclear weapons.

I think it was simply a show. They wanted to shine a light on our nuclear weapons and just send us a message.

Robert Salas

ICER stated in a press release last week that its position is mankind is being sent a warning on nuclear weapons - and have called for disarmament to be raised at the United Nations.

The US detonated the world's first nuclear bomb - codenamed Trinity - on July 16, 1945 - and the first wave of a boom in UFOs sightings followed in the late 40s and the 50s.

The Sun Online approached Captain Salas for interview - but he was unavailable.

However, he previously spoke about his experience at a press conference alongside with six other air force officers in 2010.

"I want the Air Force, the government to come forward and say this is a real phenomenon," he said.

Captain Salas claimed UFOs are a "national security" threat as he recounted what he witnessed while stationed 60feet underground in a launch control base.

US military security reported seeing lights in the sky making off maneuvers before five minutes later they claimed they spotted a "pulsating oval-shaped object" hovering above the base.

The launch officer claims the missiles he was monitoring then started going into the "no go" condition.

And this apparent display of power by the UFOs came at the height of the Cold War when the US and Russia sat poised on the edge of Armageddon.

Captain Salas said: "I think it was simply a show. They wanted to shine a light on our nuclear weapons and just send us a message.

"My interpretation is the message is get rid of them because it's going to mean our destruction."

The US Air Force has never confirmed the incident - but his account appears to match up with numerous other claims of the links between nukes and UFOs.

Mr Heseltine spent six years working with the Royal Air Force police, 24 years with the British Transport Police, and launched a national database for UFO sightings for cops whiles till a serving officer in 2002 - before retiring from the force in 2013 to focus on his UFO research.

He told The Sun Online that UFOs may be interested in man's nuclear weapons to try and who humanity we are playing with fire.

And he says there is a historic correlation between the proliferation of nuclear weapons and increasing sightings of the phenomena.

Roswell - one of the sites of the most infamous alleged UFO encounters - was the home of the US Air Force's 509th Bombardment Group which dropped the world's first nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended World War 2.

And one of Britain's most infamous encounters, the incident at Rendlesham Forest, also occurred close to RAF Woodbridge and RAF Bentwaters - where its claimed some nuclear weapons were secretly stored.

Mr Heseltine spent sometime guarding nuclear weapons stored at RAF Honington in 1984 while serving in the air force's police service.

"The correlation of UFO/UAPs is historically well-made and would seem to suggest that their actions are meant as a warning to mankind of the dangers of nuclear weapons," he told The Sun Online.

Luis Elizondo, who headed up the secretive Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) for the Pentagon, just weeks ago also made the link between UFOs and nukes.

The former intelligence officer, speaking at an event hosted by The Washington Post, said the nuclear issue is one of the reason UFOs must be treated as a nationality security concern.

He said: "That is one of the concerns we have from a national security perspective, that there does seem to be some sort of congruency or some sort of intersection between these UAP or UFO sightings and our nuclear technology with nuclear propulsion, nuclear power generation, or nuclear weapons systems.

"Furthermore, those same observations have been seen overseas in other countries. They too have had the same incidents. So that tells us this is a global issue."

Mr Elizondo claimed in the US that UFOs have disabled nuclear capabilities, while he has heard reports that in other nations that nuclear technology has been switched on.

And he characterised the technology being witnessed as "something that could be anywhere between 50 and 1,000 years ahead" of mankind's own capabilities.

What is going on with UFOs in the US?

UFOS have stepped from fringe conspiracy theories to a genuine national security debate in the US.

Pentagon officials last year took the unprecedented step to confirm a trio of remarkable videos which showed US encounters with UFOs.

The debate is still open as to what the phenomena caught on film were – but it made clear to everyone, something is in the skies.

Perhaps the most striking was a video known as the “Tic Tac” – which showed an unidentified object being pursued by fighter planes.

The US also confirmed the existence of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) – a Pentagon programme set up to study UFOs before being disbanded in 2017.

However, it was replaced by the UAP Task Force in June 2020 after a vote by the US Senate Intelligence Committee.

Defence chiefs have since confirmed a number of leaked UFO videos and photos which were submitted to the Task Force for investigation.

Why this sudden rush for transparency?

No outside the secretive wings of the US government currently knows for sure.

And as a tacked on addendum to a 5,500 page Covid relief bill passed in December, the the Director of National Intelligence’s office was ordered to compile a report on UFOs within 180 days.

Former intelligence director John Ratcliffe has hinted the report will be a big deal – and we now just over a month away from its release.

The five month deadline elapses on in June, with some UFO lobbyists claiming it could be the “most profound moment in human history".

Mr Heseltine told The Sun Online: "[After Rosewell] UFOs begun to show up in increasing frequency near nuclear power plants, nuclear storage facilities and nuclear weapons story areas.

"Often UFOs were seen going into and emerging from the oceans of the world.

"If as humans we plan to set up Moon and Mars bases, doesn't it make sense that an alien species may have done the same to the Earth however long ago?

"And that if they had been here in our deepest oceans trenches for a long time that they would not want to see their habitat destroyed by a nuclear war that would render the planet uninhabitable for humans and for their kind as well.

"As if to demonstrate the folly of nuclear weapons UFOs have at times appeared to demonstrate to the authorities that they are messing with fire."

US intelligence services officially closed the book on the phenomena in 1969 at the conclusion Project Blue Book - which stated there was nothing to see regarding UFOs.

However, in the last three years there has been an abrupt turnaround as the Pentagon took the unprecedented step of confirming three stunning UFO videos filmed by the US Navy.

And the UFO report - which was commissioned by Congress - is being compiled by the UAP Task Force, who were given a 180 day deadline in December which is due to expire this month.

Competing theories on the strange videos continue to rage – with some grounded on Earth claiming the videos capture never-before-seen military aircraft or drones, while others claim it shows otherworldly craft possibly piloted by aliens.

There are more secrets in this document than there are in Area 51. pic.twitter.com/ey8q0lvMlu

&mdash The Office on Peacock (@theofficetv) August 20, 2019

Some of that mystery and conspiracy theorizing is warranted. It’s a sprawling and classified compound in the middle of nowhere. Its existence goes hand-in-hand with secret projects, powerful weapons, and cones of silence. Some conspiracy theorists even believe it to be a place where alien ships are back-engineered, powerful weapons developed, and aliens themselves tested on.

What is Area 51?

“Area 51” (nobody who works there calls it that) is a classified Air Force testing facility in the Nevada Test and Training Range . It has about 1,000 employees, six airstrips, and a variety of other facilities about which little is known.

Why are there so many Area 51 conspiracy theories?

In the early 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission bought a huge tract of Nevada desert and parceled it into numbered Areas upon which to drop atomic bombs. When the CIA needed a place to test a high-flying spy plane, they were given an unused Area, and they draped a veil of secrecy on the place.

Over the next few decades , the CIA used the facility to test secret and classified planes. These flights coincided with the beginning of the “flying saucer” craze and started Area 51 on its way to prominence in conspiracy culture.

Why did Area 51 have so many UFO sightings?

The strange planes were occasionally spotted by the public , flying much higher than known planes could, and with triangular or cigar shapes. Many gave the appearance of gleaming silver or being surrounded by fire. All of the odd plane sightings gave the Nevada desert a reputation as a place where weird stuff happened out in the open.

But then, nobody really knew the place existed, because it was still classified. That would change in the 1980s, with the popular conspiracy theory that the government was covering up an alien crash at Roswell, New Mexico.

The incident in Roswell took place in 1947. In real life, a secret balloon designed to measure nuclear blast radiation crashed.

Wanting to keep what they called “Project Mogul” a secret, the Army Air Force initially called the object a “flying disk,” then changed to a weather balloon when UFO-obsessed locals and press ran with it

In 1980, two UFO researchers wrote an explosive book called The Roswell Incident, alleging that the government had hidden the crash of a saucer full of large-eyed, child-bodied, gray aliens. A few years later an elderly mortician who saw an Unsolved Mysteries episode about Roswell called a UFO hotline, claiming to have worked on the dead alien bodies.

With Roswell mythology going full throttle, Area 51 conspiracy theories started in earnest.

Then, in 1989, a whistleblower going only by “Dennis” told a Las Vegas TV reporter a fantastical tale involving alien secrets of the highest nature being kept at Area 51.

Dennis claimed to work in mountainside hangar called S-4. His job was back-engineering a disc-shaped alien spacecraft to reveal its secrets—the same craft that crashed at Roswell. And everything “Dennis” claimed dovetailed with the UFO sightings that had gone around Nevada for decades: anti-gravity propulsion, the ability to change directions on a dime, invisibility, and flights far higher than any known craft.

According to his claims, “Dennis” was in the middle of it all . He told the reporter he’d taken part in test flights of nine different alien craft, had been briefed on a ten thousand-year-long alien war that Earth was a player in, and been involved in the explosion of an alien material called “Element 115.”

He spent years piling on details about sophisticated hand scanners, secret paychecks, being issued a gun, and telephone monitoring until the story finally hit the mainstream.

Bob Lazar's supposedly top-secret hand-scanner from the 1980's, that @JeremyCorbell "discovered" for his film, was seen by tens of millions of people in 1977 in the film "Close Encounters of the Third". @joerogan https://t.co/sxA2c5a5HC pic.twitter.com/hbGY7LPFMD

&mdash Mick West (@MickWest) July 28, 2019

It was timed perfectly with the increasingly popular story of the “UFO cover-up” at Roswell. But the story went big time in mainstream conspiracy culture on Dec. 12, 1992 , when Art Bell had the figure on his iconic program “Coast to Coast AM.”

Within a few years, “Dennis” was a key figure in UFO mythology. And then it started to get really strange.

How weird did Area 51 conspiracy theories get?

By the mid-1990s, the initial story from “Dennis” had taken on a massive number of conspiracy theories in its wake. Some of these were:

  • That Area 51 was responsible for cold storage of the alien bodies taken from the Roswell crash
  • That it was the site where the government faked the moon landings
  • That the “child aliens” kept at Area 51 were mutated Soviet midget pilots sent by Stalin to stir panic in the United States
  • That the cover-up of the Roswell aliens was part of a massive government apparatus called “ Project POUNCE ” designed specifically to keep alien contact from the public
  • That Area 51 is where the government tests secret laser weapons it uses to start forest fires
  • That a massive network of tunnels containing trains led from Area 51 to secret underground bases where aliens were experimented upon
  • That employees flew in and out from Los Angeles on unmarked planes with no FAA designation

Have any Area 51 conspiracy theories proven true?

The UFO-crazed public of the 1950s was right to be intrigued by what was going on in the Nevada desert—because those flying saucers were actually some of America’s most advanced airplanes. And the reason we know is that the government made its first declassification of Area 51 documents in 1991. The high-flying, cigar-shaped UFO was the U-2 spy plane, while the triangular-shaped planes turned out to be the SR-71 spy plane and early concepts of the stealth fighter.

And the “unmarked planes” that flew Area 51 employees in on? While the details are classified, the flights do exist, and the base has even put out public hiring notices for pilots.

As for the rest? None of them are true. Former Area 51 employees have had their confidential agreements lifted, and in 2013, the CIA finally officially acknowledged the existence of Area 51 thanks to a Freedom of Information lawsuit. The documents that followed held no secrets about aliens or UFOs. Indeed, many former employees didn’t like the conspiracy theories that swirled around their work.

So who was “Dennis?”

Area 51 whistleblower “Dennis” turned out to be a UFO enthusiast named Bob Lazar who briefly worked as a consultant at Los Alamos National Lab. Little of what he’s spoken of over the decades has been proven, yet the UFO community still holds him up as a key figure in the mythology of Area 51.

As recently as June 2019, Joe Rogan had Lazar on his hugely popular podcast to talk aliens and anti-gravity tech.

Does Body Language Prove Bob Lazar Actually Worked On Alien Spacecraft A… https://t.co/jsPQL0REmt via @YouTube

&mdash Joe Rogan (@joerogan) August 1, 2019

Does this mean that Area 51 isn’t classified anymore?

Much of the secrecy is off Area 51. And with it, some of the strangest conspiracy theories have dissipated. But whatever is currently being worked on there is still classified, and radio traffic there is still coded to mask the names and types of planes flying in and out.

In February 2018, two amateur UFO spotters made national news when they captured footage of two F-16 fighters appearing to dogfight a triangular craft jumping around in the sky over Groom Lake near Area 51. Naturally, the Air Force had no comment on the incident.

  • ‘Storm Area 51’ creator has new plan: Alienstock
  • People are planning to storm Loch Ness in hopes of finding Nessie
  • Forget Area 51—People are planning to storm the Bermuda Triangle
  • It’s too late to book a room for the Area 51 raid

Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a writer who specializes in researching and debunking conspiracy theories and fringe beliefs. He also writes about politics, history, and breaking news.

Government’s big UFO report is a big letdown

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author roasted for tweeting that generals shouldn’t read about white rage

‘I can’t teach about racial equity’: Teacher angers conservatives with TikTok videos on critical race theory

Madison Cawthorn goes viral for getting American history wrong… again

"Or that they are biological, but their 'gray' appearance is a suit and not the actual body. Imagine other life-forms looking at our astronauts saying, 'Here come the marshmallow cyclops creatures again.'"

"There is a very simple explanation as to why abductees independently described 'gray aliens' as looking the same. They are abstracting residual memories left over from being infants and looking up at adults. Before an infant's visual cortex is fully developed, an adult human looking down at them would appear rounded and gray in color with large eyes. Cross that indistinct memory with a sleep state subconscious and standard psychological patterns, and boom: alien abduction. It also explains the sensation of being lifted, examined, and probed."