Haydon, a newspaper reporter for the Dallas Morning News, described an amazing encounter complete with a crashed spacecraft, dozens of eyewitnesses, a recovered dead Martian body, and metallic wreckage 50 years later a nearly identical story would circulate about a crash in the neighboring state of New Mexico. The fantastic tale unraveled when researchers could find no eyewitnesses to support Haydon's story, and nothing of the alien or the "several tons" of mysterious spacecraft wreckage was ever found.
It turned out that Haydon had made the whole story up as a publicity stunt to attract tourists. Early newspaper hoaxes aside, there have been countless UFO reports over the decades, and a few of them stand out as especially important. The first report of a "flying saucer" dates back only to when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine objects resembling boomerangs in the sky.
He described their movement as "like a saucer if you skip it across the water," which a careless reporter misunderstood as saying that the objects themselves resembled "flying saucers," and that mistake launched many "flying saucer" reports in later decades. Investigators think that Arnold probably saw a flock of pelicans and misjudged their size, their large wings creating the "V" shape he described. The most famous UFO crash allegedly occurred when something — skeptics say a top-secret spy balloon; believers say a spacecraft with alien pilots — crashed on a ranch in the desert outside of Roswell, New Mexico, in , and the debate rages to this day.
The first UFO abduction case — and to this day the most famous — was that of Barney and Betty Hill, an interracial couple who in claimed to have been chased down and abducted by a UFO. However, since there were no other eyewitnesses to the event and they didn't report the abduction at the time only remembering it under hypnosis , many remain skeptical. Another famous UFO sighting occurred near Phoenix, Arizona, in March when a series of bright lights were reported in the night skies. Though it is known that the military dropped flares over a nearby proving ground during routine exercises around the time of the sightings, UFO buffs dismiss the government's explanation of the lights and insist there's more to the story.
Since then, a host of UFO sightings have been reported. Here are a handful that in recent years got a lot of attention, with links to articles from the time:.
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April 21, Phoenix lights were reported again. It was a hoax, created by road flares tied to helium balloons. The hoaxer admitted it, and eyewitnesses reported seeing him do it. October 13, UFOs over Manhattan turned out to be helium balloons that escaped from a party at a school in Mount Vernon. July The sighting of a UFO on the ocean floor was attributed to a Swedish scientist, but that researcher, Peter Lindberg, merely said the thing he detected in blurry images was "completely round," an assertion not supported by the low-resolution sonar image.
A second "anomaly" made the case seem even more bizarre, but no evidence has emerged to suggest alien origin. April A viral UFO video taken from a plane over South Korea likely showed a droplet of water on the airplane's window. But like many, many UFO sightings, this one turned out to be the planet Venus.
In fact, even airline pilots have mistaken Venus for a UFO. When UFO reports became more common and in some cases achieved national and even international attention the U. Given that UFOs are literally "unidentified flying objects," the Pentagon's interest in the topic is both understandable and appropriate.
After all, unknown objects over American skies could be a threat — whether their origin is Russia, North Korea or the Andromeda Galaxy. The Air Force investigated thousands of unexplained aerial reports between and , eventually concluding that most of the "UFO" sightings involved clouds, stars, optical illusions, conventional aircraft or spy planes. A small percentage remained unexplained because of a lack of information. It began in and ended in when, according to Pentagon spokesman Thomas Crosson, "it was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding.
Much of the program and its conclusions have not been released, and it's not clear what if any useful information came from the effort.
History’s Most Infamous UFO Sightings of the Modern Era
Several short videos of military jets encountering something they couldn't identify have been released by AATIP. Already some have suggested that distant jets might be the culprit, and in the past crowdsourced research has yielded answers to seemingly inexplicable phenomena in our skies; a " mystery missile " seen off the coast of California in November , for example, stumped military experts at first but was later determined to be an ordinary commercial jet plane contrail seen from an odd angle. The fact that the U. There is, however, significantly less here than meets the eye.
The government routinely spends money to research and sometimes promote topics that turn out to have little or no evidence or scientific validity. Many people who saw the lights, however, refuse to accept this explanation, arguing that the lights were flying too fast. One of several people who witnessed the UFO in Levelland, Texas in , holding up a drawing of what he saw.
The real-life inspiration for that scene came from an incident in , when dozens of citizens of Levelland, Texas, individually reported seeing a rocket or strange lights that interfered with their vehicles: Engines died, lights cut out. Though the police initially thought the reports were a hoax, they, too, saw the mysterious lights, as they investigated the situation. Their findings?
It was an electrical storm and ball lightning that caused the lights and the mechanical malfunctions—despite the fact that there were no reported thunderstorms in the area that night. The Kids Saw it Too. Iran F-4 fighter jets. The September 19, , incident in Tehran, Iran, started much like many others, with phone calls from concerned citizens reporting a bright light in the sky.
An F-4 fighter jet was sent out to investigate, but as it neared the object, its instruments blacked out, forcing the pilot to return to base. A second F-4 took its place, and as it neared the unusual light, it achieved radar lock. But according to the pilot, the UFO released a glowing object—which the pilot assumed to be some sort of missile headed straight for him.
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As he prepared to fight back, the pilot experienced malfunctions with his instruments and he witnessed another bright object released from the UFO that headed straight toward the ground. He safely returned to base, despite the faulty equipment. After the incident, Iran contacted the United States to aid them in an investigation. An unclassified memo by U. Air Force section chief Lieutenant Colonel Olin Mooy detailed the events of the night: There are explanations for nearly all of them.
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First, the bright light seen by civilians and possibly the pilots might have been Jupiter, which was visible in the sky that night. Second, as author Brian Dunning notes in his podcast "Skeptiod," the second F-4 jet had a long history of electrical problems, meaning the instrumentation might have failed regardless of possible UFO interference. It also could explain the radar lock—it might simply have been a malfunction. A general view of disused missile silos at the former RAF Bentwaters base near Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk where an alleged alien interference with US nuclear weapons site took place.
In December , U. Air Force members stationed at two British Royal Air Force bases, Woodbridge and Bentwaters, reported seeing strange, colorful lights above Rendlesham Forest, about miles northeast of London. One man who entered the forest to investigate claimed to have discovered some sort of spacecraft there, and the next day, others confirmed damage to nearby trees and a higher-than-normal level of radiation at the site.
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt recorded his observations on an audio tape as he watched the lights, and while not definitive proof, theorists consider this the strongest evidence of the events. Credit: J.
At the end of November , citizens of Belgium reported seeing a large, triangular UFO hovering in the sky.