On 14 November 2004, the US navy had a close encounter with an unidentified flying object off the coast of southern California. Fighter pilot David Fravor was in the area on routine training when he was asked to investigate, and what he found he could not explain. Fravor reported seeing a 40ft aircraft shaped like a Tic Tac hovering above the water, roiling its surface. He attempted to fly toward the object for a closer look, and it seemed to respond in an aggressive manner, moving in a way that rattled the seasoned military veteran and defied his understanding of the laws of physics.
Fighters were later launched from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, recording the mysterious object with infra-red camera.
That recording was one of three made by US military cockpit instruments between 2004 and 2015, and together, these so-called Pentagon UFO videos would fundamentally change the way UFOs are talked about in America. A bombshell New York Times piece on the incidents in 2017 – including leaked military footage of the objects – constituted a watershed moment for those fascinated by the strange lights in the sky that have been a fixture of American popular culture since the 1950s. Long a subject of ridicule that was left to languish among the kooky fringe, UFOs were suddenly being taken seriously by the Times and the US military, two of the most levelheaded, credible institutions out there. Whether or not you believe what the military saw really represents intelligent beings from far away – or maybe they’re the next generation of Chinese weaponry, or just an elaborate misinformation campaign – it’s hard to disagree with the Times’s many insinuations that certain powerful, influential individuals know more about these phenomena than they’re willing to say.
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