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Real UFOs - The AvroCar

Real UFOs - The AvroCar

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In this UFO Files video, brought to you by the History Channel, learn about the avrocar, a real vertical takeoff flying saucer, that was design by Canadian John Frost and funded by the United States military. Previous tests were nearly catastrophic so the focus was put on the avrocar, a smaller test model.

China Built a Flying Saucer

Is the Chinese government making an investment in flying saucers? It looks that way, based on images circulating from this past weekend's 5th China Helicopter Exposition, held in the northern Tianjin region. The mockup in this photo sure resembles the classic model of a UFO:

The expo, run by the regional Tianjin government, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), and the Chinese People's Liberation Army Ground Force, offered a chance for businesses to "demonstrate their innovations and technologies," according to its website. That's common enough for an expo, but the builders of this mockup seem to have gone the extra mile. It's assumed that a subsidiary of the state-owned AVIC built the demonstration, but it's unclear which one.

Online translations show that the ship is called a Super Great White Shark.

A rough translation from Twitter provides a description for the vehicle.

The vehicle certainly looks unconventional, but the Chinese military wouldn't be the first to try out the circular design. The U.S. military has toyed with many circular vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles, most notably the Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar. A joint collaboration between the Army and Air Force, each division wanted the round flyer for different reasons.

The Army saw it as an all-terrain troop transport and reconnaissance craft, while the Air Force envisioned a craft that could hover below enemy radar and then zoom up to supersonic speed. Builders tried to please both parties, and in the process, they failed both.

It appears that Chinese builders have gone bigger than the Avrocar ever did the test models were under 5 feet tall, but had an 18-foot wingspan. Until the vehicle is in the air, however, it's impossible to say if these engineers have solved the problems that others faced over 50 years ago.

The Nazi UFO, fact or fiction?

“[Italian researcher] Renato Vesco argued that Germans had developed antigravity. The disc-shaped and tubular craft were built and tested near the end of the Second World War, which, he argued, was the proper explanation of foo fighters. These concepts, he maintained, were developed by the Americans and Soviets and led directly to flying saucers.”– Richard Dolan.

The Nazi UFOs also referred to in German as Haunebu, Hauneburg-Geräte, or Reichsflugscheiben) are supposed advanced aircraft or spacecraft that were allegedly developed by Nazi Germany during World War II.

These technologies and super-crafts appear in a number of conspiracy theories. They usually appear in connection with esoteric Nazism, an ideology that involves Nazi recovery for supernatural or paranormal purposes.

Many authors have made a historic connection with Nazi Germany, their exploratory missions around the globe, and these fascinating UFOs.

Several authors maintain that Nazi Germany explored the territory of New Swabia in Antarctica, where it sent an expedition in 1938, and planned further excursions, and even created a secret base, where many Nazi leaders fled to, after the second world war.

Nazi Flying discs? Fact or fiction?

Nazi Germany investigated advanced propulsion technologies, including missile and powerful turbines developed by Viktor Schauberger.

Some UFO sightings during World War II, particularly those known as “foo fighters”, were considered enemy weapons. Allied forced though, on numerous occasions, that the so-called Foo Fighters were, in fact, Nazi secret weapons.

But all of this sounds like one massive conspiracy, without any solid evidence to back up ‘wild claims’.

Luckily there is one reference of a few scientists who admitted working on UFOs.

The very first actual reference to Nazi UFO’s comes from a series of texts written by Italian turbine expert, Giuseppe Belluzzo.

Written on March 24-25, 1950, the text detailing secretive technologies was published on the Italian daily “Il Giornale d’Italia”:

“…types of flying discs were designed and studied in Germany and Italy as early as 1942”.

Belluzzo also expressed the opinion that “some great power is launching discs to study them”.

Soon after Belluzzo wrote about advanced turbines, German scientist Rudolph Schriever admitted to having developed flying saucers during the Nazi period. In an interview with German news magazine Der Spiegel, Schriever claimed that he had designed a craft powered by a circular plane of rotating turbine blades 49 ft (15 m) in diameter.

During the 1950’s, a lot of different countries were into the whole Flying saucer thing, and apparently many countries wanted to develop their very own flying saucer.

In 1953, Avro Canada announced that it was developing the VZ-9-AV Avrocar, a circular jet aircraft which could reach a speed of 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h) Soon after the announcement by Avro Canada, German engineer Georg Klein claimed that such designs had been developed during the Nazi era.

A diagram of Belluzzo’s UFO.

Klein even went on and identified two types of supposed German flying disks:

  • A non-rotating disk developed at Breslauby V-2 rocket engineer Richard Miethe, which was eventually captured by the Soviets, while Miethe fled to the US via France, and ended up working for Avro.
  • A disk developed by Rudolf Schriever and Klaus Habermohl at Prague, which consisted of a ring of moving turbine blades around a fixed cockpit. Klein claimed that he had witnessed this craft’s first manned flight on 14 February 1945, when it managed to climb to 12,400 m (40,700 ft) in 3 minutes and attained a speed of 2,200 km/h (1,400 mph) in level flight.

This document, available in the online archives of the Central Intelligence Agency mentions Georg Klein, who, as the document states, expressed that “though many people believe the ‘flying saucers’ to be a postwar development, they were actually in the planning stage in German aircraft factories as early as 1941.”

The document goes on stating:

“The “flying saucer” reached an altitude of 12,400 meters within 3 minutes and a speed of 2,200 kilometers per hour. Klein emphasized that in accordance with German plans, the speed of these “saucers” would reach 4,000 kilometers per hour. One difficulty, according to Klein, was the problem of obtaining the materials to be used for the construction of the “saucers,” but even this had been solved by German engineers toward the end of 1945, and construction on the objects was scheduled to begin, Klein added.

We cannot speak about flying saucers, mysterious spacecraft, and advanced technology without mentioning Hermann Oberth, the founding father of rocketry and astronautics. Oberth said:

“It is my thesis that flying saucers are real and that they are space ships from another solar system. I think that they possibly are manned by intelligent observers who are members of a race that may have been investigating our Earth for centuries.”

Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar manufacturing begins

John Carver Meadows Frost, the designer of Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar in his lab. (Bzuk / Wikimedia Commons)

The idea of a supersonic aircraft with a circular wing in the periphery of a saucer-like main body was conceived by Avro Aircraft Canada in 1952. The aircraft was designed to land and take off vertically with the help of a circular Turborotor powered by turbojet engines. Canadian Defence Research funded this project to the tune of $400,000 (₹2.8 crore). The air thrust generated by jet engines propelled the aircraft. Directing the thrust downwards create ‘ground effect’ which make it float in the air at low altitude. Directing thrust to the rear made saucer travel forward. Jack Frost, the team leader of the project, was convinced that Canada’s Flying Saucer would qualify for Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) as well as to supersonic speed.

This Flying Saucer Was For Real

Before free-flight tests, the Avrocar was flown with tethers.

Canada’s Avrocar only got 18 inches off the ground, but it signaled the first step toward practical application of vectored thrust.

A new exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force brings back memories of the “duck and cover” age, when reports of space invaders and flying saucers filled the news. During the late 1950s, the United States and Canada tested a vehicle that seemingly resembled a craft from another world. The once top-secret flying disk now on display at the museum is one of only two VZ-9-AV Avrocars built, the brainchild of British designer John “Jack” Frost.

Frost came to Avro Aircraft, Ltd. (Canada) in 1947 after a distinguished career with Britain’s de Havilland Aircraft Company, where he was instrumental in designing the jet-powered, twin-boom DH-100 Vampire, the twin-engine DH-103 Hornet and the tailless DH-108 Swallow. At Avro he created the Special Projects Group, which became involved in developing the CF-100 Canuck, the first and only Canadian-designed long-range jet fighter-interceptor to be mass produced. The CF-100, a conventionally designed airplane with straight wings and stabilizers, served with nine Royal Canadian Air Force squadrons in the mid ’50s.

The military had high hopes for the “alien” looking craft, shown here prepped and polished after its restoration. (U.S. Air Force)

Frost believed that in any future war concrete landing strips would be among the first targets eliminating them would cripple, or at least delay, any air counterstrike by the opposing force. His proposed solution: squadrons of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft that would not need runways. Working on this principle, his team of Special Projects Group scientists and designers came up with a highly modified turbine engine that drove a centrifugal fan in the center of a spade-shaped vehicle, known as Project Y. The “pancake engine,” as Frost called it, produced a blast of air that created lift. A portion of the thrust could be vented through pipes on the outside of the airframe to push the aircraft forward, side to side or backward. Keep in mind that all of this was before computers were employed to take over the control problems presented by airflow dynamics.

In 1953 Frost induced a group of American defense experts touring the Avro plant to visit the Special Projects Hangar and look at secret models, mock-ups and drawings of his proposed VTOL aircraft. The visitors were so impressed that two years later the U.S. Air Force came up with a $750,000 contract for further development. The following year Avro committed $2.5 million more to the project. In March 1957, when the USAF dedicated additional funds to the undertaking, Project Y-2 became Weapons System 606A.

Development continued, with the team making improvements based on each wind tunnel trial. At one point Frost estimated that his VTOL aircraft could conceivably reach a top speed of Mach 3.5 at 100,000 feet. As the project’s size and cost ballooned, however, USAF brass began to question the legitimacy of Frost’s fighter concept. They believed that there was a much greater need for a proven long-range bomber and supersonic high-altitude interceptor.

At the same time, newspaper and magazine stories began appearing that speculated some UFOs were actually Soviet-built saucer-shaped vehicles. In 1955 Look magazine revealed some of Frost’s early circular design drawings, fueling speculation about the U.S. and Canada developing a flying saucer. In reality, Frost’s drawings of Weapons System 606A showed a saucer-shaped craft with a boom containing the cockpit grafted on the front.

By 1958, Frost had abandoned some of his early concepts and begun building a scaled-down machine he now called the Avrocar. At the same time the U.S. Army became interested in using such a vehicle as a “flying jeep.” Frost indicated that this smaller craft had the potential for a 10- minute ground effect hover capability, 25- mile range and the ability to transport a 1,000-pound payload.

The vehicle was an aluminum-skinned disk, 18 feet in diameter and 3½ feet tall at the center. The internal structure consisted of a large metal equilateral triangular truss to which all the components were attached. The 124-blade “turborotor,” driven by three Continental J69-T-9 jet engines attached to the truss, was placed in the center of the craft, where the fan’s thrust was directed down. A pilot and an observer occupied two cockpits located on opposite sides of the disk, controlling the vehicle by directing the flow of high-pressure air with a side-mounted stick.

The Avrocar project was humming along when disaster struck in February 1959: The Canadian government canceled the Avro CF-105 Arrow supersonic interceptor program, and Avro laid off most of its employees, including those in the Special Operations Group. Thanks to political maneuvering, Frost got the Avrocar project continued, but only with U.S. funding. Development was abandoned by the early 1960s, however, as the Avrocar proved inherently unstable in forward flight.

NMUSAF historian Jeff Underwood noted that the Avrocar’s design is significant in that it demonstrates to what extent aviation was in flux at the end of World War II. “It shows that people had started really thinking out of the box at the time,” he said, citing the testing and development of such innovative aircraft as the Ryan X-13 Vertijet and the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin, a parasite fighter that was carried aloft on a trapeze-like rail beneath a Boeing B-36.

Underwood pointed out that prior to the Avrocar, designers looked only to attach a propeller to the front or rear of an aircraft or “put a jet engine on it to push air out the back end.” But when it came to the Avro car: “Now they are talking about taking a jet engine and pushing down for lift and to move back and forth. That’s pretty extreme stuff.” And while the Avrocar was considered a failure at the time, in retrospect it was more of a first step toward the principle of vectored thrust used so successfully by aeronautical engineers today.

Today the first prototype Avrocar is displayed in the Research and Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

The first full-scale prototype of the Avrocar, serial no. 58-7055, rolled out of the Avro Malton plant near Toronto in May 1959. It has been restored and was recently placed on display at the NMUSAF. Since it served as the wind tunnel test vehicle, this craft never actually flew. A second Avrocar logged about 75 hours in the field, eventually reaching a maximum speed of 20 knots and traversing a 6-foot-wide ditch at a height of 18 inches. In the end, however, lack of control as well as extreme heat and ear-splitting noise generated by the engines doomed the craft.

Restoration specialist Brian Lindamood explained that the museum acquired the Avrocar in 2007 from the Smithsonian’s Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility. Before restoration, Lindamood said, the vehicle was “in fairly rough condition, as it looked like it had been sitting in a high moisture area for some time.” Sections of its aluminum skin had to be sanded by hand to remove corrosion.

While its three Continental jets are still intact in the airframe, they’ve presumably not been run for almost 40 years. The 124- blade turborotor fan located in the center of the fuselage was cleaned up and polished and now appears factory fresh. “A lot of rivets had corroded out and were missing,” Lindamood said. “We replaced them so that there are no holes visible.” Then technicians swarmed over the aluminum-skinned craft with metal polish and buffers, resulting in a bright mirror finish that “you can almost see your face in,” according to Lindamood. Once the circular craft’s original markings had been repainted, the final step was heat-forming two new plexiglass canopy bubbles to cover its dual cockpits.

Ironically, if Jack Frost had added a rubber skirt to the outside of his flying disk, he would have produced the world’s first hovercraft. That milestone came a few months later, with the introduction of the Saunders Roe SR.N1.

Originally published in the November 2009 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.

The Avrocar

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The year was 1952 and the Cold War was in full chill. The House Un-American Activities Committee was looking for “reds under beds,” while teenage boys read science fiction comics and watched movies like “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”

As both communist paranoia and the sci-fi craze swept the nation, UFO sightings were spreading like an epidemic across the United States. Even Air Force pilots reported being pursued by flying saucers. They may not all have been so crazy after all.

Enter the Avro Canada VZ-9. The Avrocar was a VTOL – vertical take off and landing – aircraft developed in Canada by Avro Aircraft Ltd. as part of a secret U.S. military project carried out in the early years of the Cold War.

The Avrocar intended to exploit the Coandă effect – “the tendency of a fluid jet to be attracted to a nearby surface” – to provide lift and thrust in the form of a single “turbo rotor” blowing exhaust out the rim of the disk-shaped aircraft, sort of like a hovercraft on speed. The vehicle was meant to manned by a crew of two, in separate cockpits, and the army planned on utilizing the craft as a sort of “flying jeep.”

In the air, the Avrocar distinctly resembled a flying saucer. Two prototypes were built as “proof-of-concept” test vehicles, before building a more advanced USAF fighter. However, In flight-testing, the Avrocar proved to have unresolved thrust and stability problems. The saucer proved immensely difficult to fly with very sensitive controls, and one pilot likened flying it to “balancing on a beach ball.” Though the Avrocar was made to fly up to 190 km/h and it was believed with some modifications the project was salvageable, funding ran out and the project was canceled in September 1961.

The first Avrocar eventually became a “wind tunnel” test model at NASA until 1966, when it was donated to the National Air and Space Museum, in Suitland, Maryland where it mostly gathered dust and began to fall apart.

Scheduled for restoration and display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center the Avrocar has been loaned to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

If you can’t get down to Ohio to see the real deal you can see a full-scale replica of the Avrocar at the Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The reproduction was prepared for the 2002 TV production, Avrocar: Saucer Secrets from the Past. It now resides in the museum as an exhibit.

Know Before You Go

National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, or Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

But What About the Aliens?

In CE-III (close encounters of the third kind) and CE-IV (close encounters of the fourth kind), contactees have recounted interactions with ‘alien’ occupants of UFOs. Have you ever been in close proximity to something or someone you do not even have the words to describe them? Imagine yourself in such an experience with a female from ‘outer space’. Antônio Villas Boas had one such close encounter that he described the meeting in sexual terms.

“At the time of his alleged abduction, Antônio Villas Boas was a 23-year-old Brazilian farmer who was working at night to avoid the hot temperatures of the day. On October 16, 1957, he was ploughing fields near São Francisco de Sales when he saw what he described as a ‘red star’ in the night sky. According to his story, this ‘star’ approached his position, growing in size until it became recognizable as a roughly circular or egg-shaped aerial craft, with a red light at its front and a rotating cupola on top. The craft began descending to land in the field, extending three ‘legs’ as it did so. At that point, Boas decided to run from the scene.

“According to Boas, he first attempted to leave the scene on his tractor, but when its lights and engine died after traveling only a short distance, he decided to continue on foot. However, he was seized by a 1.5 m (five-foot) tall humanoid, who was wearing grey coveralls and a helmet. Its eyes were small and blue, and instead of speech it made noises like barks or yelps. Three similar beings then joined the first in subduing Boas, and they dragged him inside their craft.

Location of São Francisco de Sales, Minas Gerais, Brazil

“Once inside the craft, Boas said that he was stripped of his clothes and covered from head-to-toe with a strange gel. He was then led into a large semicircular room, through a doorway that had strange red symbols written over it. (Boas claimed that he was able to memorize these symbols and later reproduced them for investigators.) In this room the beings took samples of Boas’ blood from his chin. After this he was then taken to a third room and left alone for around half an hour. During this time, some kind of gas was pumped into the room, which made Boas become violently ill.

“Shortly after this, Boas claimed that he was joined in the room by another humanoid. This one, however, was female, very attractive, and naked. She was the same height as the other beings he had encountered, with a small, pointed chin and large, blue catlike eyes. The hair on her head was long and white (somewhat like platinum blonde) but her underarm and pubic hair were bright red. Boas said he was strongly attracted to the woman, and the two had sexual intercourse. During this act, Boas noted that the female did not kiss him but instead nipped him on the chin.

“When it was all over, the female smiled at Boas, rubbing her belly and gestured upwards. Boas took this to mean that she was going to raise their child in space. The female seemed relieved that their ‘task’ was over, and Boas himself said that he felt angered by the situation, because he felt as though he had been little more than ‘a good stallion’ for the humanoids.

“Boas said that he was then given back his clothing and taken on a tour of the ship by the humanoids. During this tour he said that he attempted to take a clock-like device as proof of his encounter, but was caught by the humanoids and prevented from doing so. He was then escorted off the ship and watched as it took off, glowing brightly. When Boas returned home, he discovered that four hours had passed.

“Antônio Villas Boas later became a lawyer, married and had four children. He stuck to the story of his alleged abduction for his entire life. Though some sources say he died in 1992, he died on January 17, 1991.” (Wikipedia)

I randomized the timing and then changed AM to PM. And, yes there is one inconjunct!

Venus Inconjunct Ascendant

You often feel that you haven’t any right to ask much of those whom you love. You feel that you must do favors for them instead of asking for their help. For you, love is an act of service, not self-gratification. Also, through relationships with others, you try to learn more about your own and other people’s inner workings. For this reason your relationships are more deep and profound than most people’s. But they are somewhat difficult, too.

Most people would pooh-pooh the idea that an alien would copulate with a human to create a hybrid being, but as we have seen in The X Files, this is a constant theme of the future of mankind. Even now, with the pandemic vaccines, our mRNA is being altered. Is this how we survive a uncertain catastrophe?

All along, I’ve viewed our Space Brothers as actually beings from the future who are assisting us through this transitional time frame. Is that really so preposterous?

This writing looks like shorthand: I wonder what it’s trying to tell us?

Was a Real UFO Caught on Video at Skinwalker Ranch During History Channel Live Feed?

The History Channel promoted The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch series with a 12-hour live stream at the ranch.

Was a UFO spotted at Skinwalker Ranch in Utah? The History Channel promoted The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch series with a 12-hour live stream from the iconic ranch, which picked up some interesting lights. The new non-fiction series takes a closer look at the mysterious ranch where people have spotted UFOs for decades, along with paranormal activity and some weird cattle accidents. While not everybody believes in the paranormal or aliens, just about everybody can agree that there is some odd energy at Skinwalker Ranch.

The History Channel's 12-hour live stream was mostly uneventful. With that being said, there is a weird moment at the 3:07:20 mark. A light comes into the frame and then in the upper right hand corner, one can easily see some green triangular bits of light. While this is almost positively light activity from a security jeep, there are people who believe that it may have been an actual UFO sighting. For now, that seems very doubtful and people could be playing April Fool's jokes.

Dr. Travis Taylor is leading The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. He's an astrophysicist with PhDs in quantum physics and aerospace engineering, along with designing. He also happens to work for the Department of Defense and writes science fiction novels in his free time. While he did not want to give too much away about the series, he did say, "You'll see the evidence we acquired that is scientifically verifiable you're going to be blown away because I was. I'm still amazed to this day and still have a hard time believing what I saw." Dr. Taylor saw some stuff on a daily basis during his four-month stay at Skinwalker Ranch. He had this to say.

It will be interesting to see what The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch has uncovered. The show just premiered earlier this week and so far, the alien and paranormal enthusiasts seem to be enjoying it. Along with the UFO sightings, there are people who believe there are portals to other dimensions on the property, which is currently owned by real estate mogul Brandon Fugal. The land was allegedly cursed by the Navajos and apparently a lot of weird stuff goes on there. While Dr. Travis Taylor said he wasn't scared at any time during his four months there, he also says he would not allow his family on the property.

The History Channel probably did not find evidence of UFOs in their 12-hour live stream, but that doesn't mean that there isn't something strange going on there in terms of the energy. The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch premiered last night and will air Tuesday nights, starting at 10 PM on the History channel. You can also stream the series on Hulu after it airs on the network. You can check out the live stream from Monday night above, thanks to the History Channel YouTube channel. Head to the 3:07:20 mark to see the lights.

Real UFOs - The AvroCar - HISTORY

Frost’s team felt that the answer to developing such airplanes lay in taking advantage of the Coanda effect, in which pressurized air can flow over the top of a disk-shaped craft, causing it to hover above the ground. The researchers also believed that such a craft would be stable at both sub and supersonic speeds. This would give her the nation in possession of these vehicles unquestioned technical superiority over its enemies.

Despite the potential rewards of this research, Canadian defense authorities passed on Frost’s design in favor of other projects. Never one to give up easy, the designer captured the attention of US officials when they visited Avro Canada’s facilities in 1953.
Intrigued by his proposal, the U.S. Air Force took over funding of the Special Projects Group, awarding the clandestine organization a $750,000 grant in 1955.Avro Canada followed up with a $2.5 million investment of its own the following year.

With substantial funds invested in the effort, officials pressured Frost and his people to produce results. In 1957, they offered the USAF a proof-of-concept engine. Unfortunately, testing of the prototype didn’t go quite as planned. The engine leaked oil and caused fires.

To avoid their own deaths, team members built a reinforced steel booth in which to test the device. Despite these safeguards, their prototype was simply too powerful to control. Funders began to lose interest when Frost proposed building a scaled-back model that eventually became the Avrocar.

The Avrocar is as close to building a flying saucer as terrestrial scientists have ever come. It consists of a disk 18 feet in diameter and 3 ½ feet thick. At its center is a rotor powered by three Continental J69-T-9 jet engines. Designed for a crew of two, it was built so that the pilot can operate the craft with a single control stick.

Frost, who was an excellent salesman, promised his invention would travel hundreds of miles per hour, reach an altitude of 10,000 feet, and have a range of nearly 1,000 miles. As with most of his predictions, however, reality came up short. Aerodynamic forces caused the craft to pitch back and forth wildly during ascent. The Special Projects Group tried multiple ways to correct this problem, but to no avail.

In its final version, the Avrocar’s actual top speed was 35 miles an hour, its range was closer to 80 miles, and it could rise about three feet above ground before it destabilized. Efforts to rescue the project continued until late 1961, when the government finally pulled the plug.

Despite its dismal record, the Avrocar is a helluva sight. In fact, you can see one of the two prototypes on public display at the Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. If you didn’t know better, you might swear that you were looking at a real spacecraft. And that, dear readers, is the truth about the military’s flying saucer project – or so say the official sources.

UFOs Are Real, But Don't Assume They're Alien Spaceships

Aliens shouldn't be the default explanation for weird stuff in the sky.

UFOs are very real, as we have recently seen — but that doesn't mean E.T. has been violating our airspace.

"UFO" refers to any flying object an observer cannot readily identify. And pilots with the U.S. Navy saw fast-moving UFOs repeatedly off the East Coast throughout 2014 and 2015, in one case apparently nearly colliding with one of the mysterious objects, The New York Times reported earlier this week.

Those incidents were reported to the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), whose existence the Times and Politico revealed in December 2017. (Interestingly, those 2017 stories cited Pentagon officials as saying that AATIP had been shut down in 2012.)

Former AATIP head Luis Elizondo, by the way, is involved with a new six-part series called "Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation," which premieres tonight (May 31) on The History Channel.

The Navy pilots said some UFOs reached hypersonic speeds without any detectable exhaust plumes, suggesting the possible involvement of super-advanced propulsion technology. Still, Defense Department officials aren't invoking intelligent aliens as an explanation, according to this week's Times story — and they're right to be measured in this respect, scientists say.

There are multiple possible prosaic explanations for the Navy pilots' observations, said Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California.

He pointed out, for example, that the sightings occurred off the coast, as did a similar 2004 observation unveiled in conjunction with the December 2017 stories. (That previous sighting occurred near San Diego).

Coastal regions are where you might expect to find a rival nation's advanced reconnaissance craft, Shostak said, because incursions over the continental United States would be more obvious and easily detected.

He also noted that, according to the recent Times story, the Navy pilots began spotting the UFOs after their jets' radar system was upgraded. That detail suggests the sightings might stem from some sort of software bug or instrument issue, he said.

"As anybody who uses Microsoft products knows, whenever you upgrade any technical product, there are always problems," Shostak said.

Such reasoning is bolstered by the current tendency of UFOs to manifest as blobs or blurs on the displays of advanced instruments rather than as crisply defined objects in cellphone photos.

"The sightings always recede to the edge of what technology allows you to do," Shostak said. "The aliens are kind of keeping pace with technology."

Common sense also argues against jumping to the E.T. conclusion. If these UFOs are indeed alien spacecraft, what exactly are they doing? Why were they sent here, across the vast gulfs of space and time?

"If the aliens are here, you gotta say they're the best houseguests ever, because they never do anything," Shostak said. "They just buzz around. They don't address climate change they don't steal our molybdenum."

But such skepticism should not be taken as a dismissal of the E.T. possibility, Shostak stressed.

"It's not trivial to say what these things are," he said. And Shostak applauded a newly enacted classified Navy policy, as reported by the Times, instructing pilots on how to report UFOs (which the military, and many other people, now call "unexplained aerial phenomena," likely in an attempt to dodge the tinfoil-hat stigma associated with the term "UFO.")

"That's a good policy," he said. "Let them do it."

After all, we've learned over the past decade or so that our Milky Way galaxy is home to huge numbers of potentially habitable worlds. Observations by NASA's Kepler space telescope, for example, suggest that at least 20% percent of the galaxy's 200 billion or so stars likely harbor a rocky planet in the "habitable zone," that just-right range of distances where liquid surface water could exist.

So, while the odds may be long that any UFO witnessed to date was an extraterrestrial craft, it's far from crazy to suspect that intelligent aliens are out there somewhere (or at least were out there somewhere, at some point during the Milky Way's 13-billion-year history). That's why people like Shostak keep listening for signals from the sky.