My special guest is UFO researcher Preston Dennett who's here to discuss years of UFO activity in the state of Nevada. Get his book UFO's Over Nevada: A True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Silver State on Amazon.
Nevada has been a UFO hotspot for more than 100 years. In this first book to ever present a comprehensive history of extraterrestrial encounters in the Silver State, you will find a dazzling array of sightings, landings, face-to-face encounters, abductions, and even UFO crash/retrievals arranged by decades. With eighty-four percent of the state owned by the Federal Government (more than any other state) Nevada’s military bases have been deluged by sightings. UFOs hovering in the heart of Las Vegas, dramatic UFO-car chases in the remote Nevada deserts, cases of aliens walking among us―they’re all here, and more. Read about Truman Betherum, who had a series of encounters with friendly humanoids, and country singer Johnny Sands, who had a face-to-face visitation with strange ETs in the desert outside Las Vegas. Find out about the 1962 UFO crash over Las Vegas and what really is going on inside the super-secret Area 51.
20th century and after
In the Pacific and European theatres during World War II, round, glowing fireballs known as "foo fighters" were reported by Allied and Axis pilots. Some proposed Allied explanations at the time included St. Elmo's fire, the planet Venus, hallucinations from oxygen deprivation, or German secret weapons. In 1946, more than 2,000 reports were collected, primarily by the Swedish military, of unidentified aerial objects over the Scandinavian nations, along with isolated reports from France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. The objects were referred to as "Russian hail" (and later as "ghost rockets") because it was thought the mysterious objects were possibly Russian tests of captured German V1 or V2 rockets. Most were identified as natural phenomena as meteors.
The popular UFO craze by many accounts began with a media frenzy surrounding the reports on June 24, 1947, that a civilian pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine objects flying in formation near Mount Rainier in the United States. At the time, he claimed he described the objects flying in a saucer-like fashion, leading to newspaper accounts of "flying saucers" and "flying discs". Soon, reports of flying saucer sightings became a daily occurrence with one particularly famous example being the Roswell incident where remnants of a downed observation balloon were recovered by a farmer and confiscated by military personnel.
The story received scant attention at the time, but interest in it revived in the 1990s with the publicity surrounding the television broadcast of an Alien autopsy video marketed as "real footage" but later admitted to be a staged "re-enactment". Various UFO claimants said that they had interacted with the aliens driving the spacecraft and a few said they had visited the crafts themselves. In 1961, the first alien abduction account was sensationalized when Barney and Betty Hill went under hypnosis after seeing a UFO and reported recovered memories of their experience that became ever more elaborate as the years went by.
As media accounts and speculation were running rampant in the US, by 1953 intelligence officials (Robertson Panel) worried that "genuine incursions" by enemy aircraft "over U.S. territory could be lost in a maelstrom of kooky hallucination" of UFO reports. Media were enlisted to help debunk and discourage UFO reports, culminating in a 1966 TV special, “UFO: Friend, Foe or Fantasy?”, in which Walter Cronkite "patiently" explained to viewers that UFOs were fantasy. Cronkite enlisted Carl Sagan and J. Allen Hynek, who told Cronkite, “To this time, there is no valid scientific proof that we have been visited by spaceships". Fellow NICAP official Donald E. Keyhoe wrote that Vice Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the first director of the CIA, "wanted public disclosure of UFO evidence".
A 1969 National Academy of Sciences panel reviewed the Condon Report and concurred with its finding, observing that, “While further study of particular aspects of the topic (e.g., atmospheric phenomena) may be useful, a study of UFOs in general is not a promising way to expand scientific understanding of the phenomena.” Referencing the panel's conclusions, the Pentagon announced that it would no longer investigate UFO reports. According to Keith Kloor, the "allure of flying saucers" remained popular with the public into the 1970s, spurring production of such sci-fi films, as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alien, which "continued to stoke public fascination". Kloor writes that by the late 1990s, "other big UFO subthemes had been prominently introduced into pop culture, such as the abduction phenomenon and government conspiracy narrative, via best-selling books and, of course, The X-Files".
Notable cases and incidentsMain article: List of reported UFO sightingsBritain
- The Rendlesham Forest incident was a series of reported sightings of unexplained lights near Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk, England in late December 1980 which became linked with claims of UFO landings.
The most notable cases of UFO sightings in France include:
- the Valensole UFO incident in 1965.
- the Trans-en-Provence Case in 1981.
A Roswell Daily Record on July 8, 1947 reporting a UFO caseUnited States
- In the Kecksburg UFO incident, Pennsylvania (1965), residents reported seeing an object crash in the area.
- In 1975, Travis Walton claimed to be abducted by aliens. The movie Fire in the Sky (1993) was based on this event, but greatly embellished the original account.
- The "Phoenix Lights" on March 13, 1997
The USAF's Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1% of all unknown reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other telescope users (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In 1952, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, then a consultant to Blue Book, conducted a small survey of 45 fellow professional astronomers. Five reported UFO sightings (about 11%). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two large surveys of the AIAA and American Astronomical Society (AAS). About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings.
Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who saw six UFOs, including three green fireballs, supported the extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs and said scientists who dismissed it without study were "unscientific". Another astronomer, Lincoln LaPaz, headed the United States Air Force's investigation into green fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. LaPaz reported two personal sightings, of a green fireball and a disc. (Both Tombaugh and LaPaz were part of Hynek's 1952 survey.) Hynek took two photos through the window of a commercial airliner of a disc that seemed to keep pace with his aircraft.
The Rendlesham pyramid during its "explosion".
Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi rejected the hypothesis that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft and responded to the "onslaught of credulous coverage" in books, films and entertainment by teaching his students to apply critical thinking to such claims, advising them that "being a good scientist is not unlike being a good detective". According to Fraknoi, UFO reports "might at first seem mysterious", but "the more you investigate, the more likely you are to find that there is LESS to these stories than meets the eye".
In a 1980 survey of 1800 members of amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and Hynek for CUFOS, 24% responded "yes" to the question "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"
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