The fighter pilots could hardly conceal their surprise as they tracked the object moving at incredible speed above the waves. ‘Wow, what is that, man?’ says one excitedly. ‘Look at it fly!’
Infrared cockpit-camera footage taken on a later sortie by the same U.S. Navy squadron reveals another immensely fast-flying object, this one spinning in mid-air and moving against a 120-knot wind, again accompanied by commentary from totally baffled airmen.
Although the footage shows only one of these objects, a pilot is heard to say: ‘There’s a whole fleet’ showing up on his monitors. And as the one in the film turns slowly in the air, a shocked voice chimes in: ‘Look at that thing! It’s rotating!’
Between the summer of 2014 and March 2015, it’s now emerged, these unexplained objects were spotted almost every day over the skies off the U.S. East Coast.
Highly qualified U.S. Navy pilots — flying from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and training for active duty in the Persian Gulf — told their superiors the objects seemingly defied the laws of physics.
About 30-40ft long and shaped like a Tic Tac mint, they had no wings or rotors — in fact, they had no discernible means of propulsion or flight — and, yet, they could hover in the sky, slow suddenly and accelerate almost instantaneously to hypersonic speeds of a mile a second.
Between the summer of 2014 and March 2015 these unexplained objects were spotted almost every day over the skies off the U.S. East Coast
Radar showed they could fly as high as 80,000ft. One pilot compared their remarkable manoeuverability to a ping-pong ball bouncing off a wall. The resulting G-force would crush any humans inside.
A near collision was recorded in an official mishap report, when, in late 2014, the pilot of a Super Hornet fighter jet almost hit one of them. The pilot said it looked like a sphere encasing a cube.
‘These things would be there all day,’ said Lt Ryan Graves, a Super Hornet pilot of ten years’ service. He and four other pilots reported their sightings to the Pentagon and to Congress, but only now have they spoken out publicly.
Their accounts — backed by the infrared camera footage and reports of a strikingly similar encounter that occurred a decade earlier — appear to have bounced the U.S. Navy into action.
Amid claims it has ignored or covered up sightings in the past, it has now been forced to admit it does investigate what it calls ‘unexplained aerial phenomena’, and that it has just introduced a formal, albeit secret, procedure for military personnel to report what the rest of us know as UFOs.
Former U.S. officials have welcomed the move, saying the government needs to take the issue seriously and remove the stigma attached to reporting incidents.
clearly this is not some giant hoax and, given the weight of evidence, it’s hard to swallow the arguments of sceptics who say these newly publicised sightings can be explained by human error or equipment failure .
In which case, many experts agree, only two possible explanations remain: either someone or some country has secretly developed jaw-droppingly advanced technology, or the giant flying Tic Tacs don’t come from this planet.
Highly qualified U.S. Navy pilots — flying from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and training for active duty in the Persian Gulf — told their superiors the objects seemingly defied the laws of physics
Nobody at the Pentagon is saying the objects were extraterrestrial, and scientists stress that more mundane explanations are often found for such incidents. (Last week, for instance, billionaire Elon Musk’s company SpaceX, sent 60 satellites into orbit, prompting excited stargazers across the world to report UFOs.)
The pilots’ evidence was sent for analysis at a secret Pentagon outfit called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which investigates encounters between UFOs and U.S. military.
Angry that his government wasn’t doing more to counter what could be a profound security threat, the boss of the Identification Program, Luis Elizondo, decided to release the footage of the UFO encounters into the public domain, and in 2017 resigned his post.
Mr Elizondo is believed to be the most senior U.S. official ever to say that the UFO phenomenon is real.
And now, two years on from his release of the footage, some of the pilots involved in the encounters appear to corroborate his view, speaking to the New York Times and makers of a forthcoming History Channel documentary series, Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation.
They say they only started noticing the UFOs after their Eighties-era radar was modernised. Initially, they ignored them, thinking they were false radar tracks.
However, they kept appearing as the carrier group sailed between Virginia and Florida, at varying altitudes, at immense speeds far faster than any fighter jet.
Whatever fuelled the UFOs, it was clearly much more advanced than anything known to the U.S. Navy. They were able to tear around the sky for 12 hours at a time, when a navy jet could only manage an hour before having to refuel, says Lt Graves.
A fellow pilot, Lt Danny Accoin, says he encountered the objects twice. The first time he picked one up on his radar, he set his plane to head towards it, albeit flying 1,000ft below.
Amid claims it has ignored or covered up sightings in the past, it has now been forced to admit it does investigate what it calls ‘unexplained aerial phenomena’, and that it has just introduced a formal, albeit secret, procedure for military personnel to report what the rest of us know as UFOs
Even though it was clearly visible on his radar, missile system and infrared camera, he couldn’t see it through his helmet camera.
Then, the pilots started seeing the objects with their naked eyes. ‘No distinct wings, no distinct tail, no distinct exhaust plume,’ says Lt Accoin. ‘It seems like they were aware of our presence, because they would actively move around us.’
Lt Graves said he once bumped into a squadron mate who had just returned from a mission ‘with a look of shock on his face’. He told him he had ‘almost hit one of those things’ as he and another pilot flew just 100ft apart. Something suddenly flew right between them.
The pilots initially believed they had stumbled into a top-secret U.S. drone project, but, after the near miss, they reasoned the Pentagon wouldn’t possibly behave so irresponsibly as to let them fly so close.
It’s not the first time that U.S. Navy pilots have reported disturbing encounters in broad daylight with a ‘giant Tic Tac’.
In November 2004, two Super Hornets were on a routine training mission over the Pacific, 100 miles out from San Diego, when a cruiser, the USS Princeton, radioed them and ominously asked if they were armed.
The ship had spent two weeks tracking strange, unidentified aircraft that appeared suddenly at an altitude of 80,000ft, then plunged towards the sea. At 20,000ft, they stopped and hovered before either disappearing out of radar range or shooting straight up again.
Cmdr David Fravor and his colleagues only had dummy missiles, but they were directed to the last known location of one of the objects. In the sea, they saw a large object just below the surface of the water, and another, 50ft above, hovering erratically. They described it as 40ft long, white, wingless and shaped like an oblong pill.
As Cmdr Fravor flew towards it, the second object rose to meet him at a fast speed and acceleration. Flying with the other pilot was an unidentified weapons systems operator, who is now a senior naval officer.
She told the History Channel: ‘The hair on the back of my neck was standing up. I was thinking: ‘I’m going to be watching a disaster here.’ You’re wondering: ‘How can I possibly fight this?’ ‘
Instead, the object suddenly peeled away at a speed that Fravor admits left him feeling ‘pretty weirded out’.
He was even more ‘weirded out’ when the Princeton told him its radar showed the object had reappeared under a minute later, 60 miles away at the planes’ precise rendezvous point.
How did it travel so fast, at a speed of 3,700 mph (the Super Hornet’s top speed is 1,190 mph), and how did it know his rendezvous point? Another jet was swiftly sent up with an infrared camera and captured a grainy 90-second film of the ‘Tic Tac’ flying slowly, then zipping away fast.
Sceptics question whether there are bugs in the planes’ imaging systems, or whether the pilots were tricked by atmospheric effects and reflections.
However, Kevin Day, the Princeton’s senior radar operator at the time, says his screen showed well over 100 UFOs over the course of that week. ‘Watching them on the display was like watching snow fall from the sky,’ he says.
Cmdr Fravor says: ‘There is a capability out there, I don’t know where it’s from. I’m not saying it’s from outer space, but I’m not saying it’s from here either.’
Some physicists have outlined how ‘field propulsion’ systems can move an object at astonishing speeds without any propellant, by creating external force fields so the space around the object moves rather than the object.
However, the theory is purely speculative — perhaps even less feasible than little green men in physics-defying spaceships.
WHAT IS THE SECRET PENTAGON DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION ON UFO ATTACKS?
UFO enthusiasts have argued for decades that the U.S. government has been covering up the existence of unidentified craft containing alien visitors.
The idea that a hush-hush government outfit was investigating sightings and other bizarre phenomena famously provided the basis for TV drama series The X-Files.
Now, it seems the cult series wasn’t such a flight of fancy after all.
The shadowy Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program’s existence was intentionally buried in the defense department’s $600 billion (£448.76 bn) annual budget, as were its headquarters, deep within the labyrinthine Pentagon building.
Based on the fifth floor of C Ring, the secret department has spent years investigating reports of unidentified flying objects.
Although the Pentagon officially stopped funding the project in 2012, insiders told the New York Times it is still operating. And, more tantalizingly, intelligence experts who ran it, and politicians who backed it, insist its research has not been fruitless.
Having investigated myriad reports from U.S. servicemen of encounters between unknown objects and military planes, they are convinced that nothing in this world can explain them.