Saturday, January 6, 2018

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

I want to take a break from writing about our planet.

I have always been highly skeptical of UFOs, at least after my teenage years when my capacity for objectivity was less than stellar. Why, in this day and age when everyone and their cousin has megapixel cameras in their smartphone and surveillance cameras are ubiquitous is there so little in the way of credible evidence?

This brings me to an article published by the NY Times a couple of weeks ago. It’s a story about a secret program and included video images recorded in 2004. The videos were released by the Department of Defense last August.  The story was written by three prize-winning reporters.

We as a society barely batted an eyelash at this story, which recounts events which took place 13 years ago.

The videos show recordings by infrared tracking systems on a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet which was following what the pilot described as a school-bus sized Tic-Tac shaped object. It had no wings, no visible means of propulsion and its maneuvering ability far exceeded that of any known aircraft. One video shows the object rotating like a spinning coin as it flew and another shows it dashing out of range at an acceleration rate like something out of Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

The facts of the encounter are pretty startling. A couple of dozen objects were tracked by a guided missile cruiser’s sophisticated AEGIS radar. More than one Super Hornet took part in the encounter and thus at least four highly trained Navy officers saw the objects. One recording was made by an external targeting pod designed to track targets on land or the skies under all weather conditions and the other by a pilot’s internal targeting display.

A coworker who worked on AEGIS radars for years said this video had to be a hoax. Given what I have read so far, I disagree.

Any electronic system can provide false information. Eyewitnesses can lie, their memories can be inaccurate, or they can be under the influence. The likelihood that three different electronic systems and multiple human witnesses were all spoofed in this instance is highly improbable, especially when the eyewitnesses were highly trained combat pilots with many years’ experience in the cockpit who are not likely to be chewing peyote.

In science, multiple lines of evidence decrease the probability that an observed phenomenon is a one-off, the result of instrumental error, or human bias. In other words, I think this information is pretty credible.

So what were they looking at? It appears to be a honest-to-God Unidentified Flying Object. A UFO.

One of the pilots interviewed by the Washington Post, which I’d also consider another reputable news outlet, stated that it was “Something not from the Earth.”
Is the pilot right? Does this encounter mean we are being visited by aliens?

Not necessarily.

We don’t know where these objects came from, who was piloting them, what they are made of, or even if anything organic was aboard. For all we know, the UFOs are from the future, a parallel universe, Atlantis, let alone another solar system. They could be manmade. We don’t have sufficient information to even speculate and we may never, but gee whiz, it would be cool to find out.

What is clear is that the DOD no longer cares. According to the Times, the secret Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program which studied such incidents ended in 2012. I guess that whatever these things are, the DOD does not consider them a threat. It’s hard enough to deal with countries and organizations we know want to do us harm, let alone “foo fighters” that dance through the skies taunting mere humans flying $70 million high performance warplanes.

And in the hubbub of today’s information-overloaded world, this story isn’t even a blip on anyone’s radar screen except mine and the tin-foil-hat crowd, of which I am proudly NOT a member.

Woke up this morning with light in my eyes
And then realized it was still dark outside
It was a light coming down from the sky
I don't know who or why

Must be those strangers that come every night
Those saucer shaped lights put people uptight
Leave blue green footprints that glow in the dark
I hope they get home alright

Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won't you please take me along
I won't do anything wrong
Hey, Mr. Spaceman
Won't you please take me along for a ride

- Roger McGuinn, the Byrds, 1966

Published in the Westborough News, January 5, 2018

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