Pilots are about to receive a new memo from management: If you encounter an unidentified flying object while on the job, please tell us.
The U.S. Navy is drafting new rules for reporting such sightings, according to a recent story from Politico. Apparently, enough incidents have occurred in “various military-controlled ranges and designated airspace” in recent years to prompt military officials to establish a formal system to collect and analyze the unexplained phenomena. Members of Congress and their staffs have even started asking about the claims, and Navy officials and pilots have responded with formal briefings.
The Washington Post provided more details in its own story:
In some cases, pilots—many of whom are engineers and academy graduates—claimed to observe small spherical objects flying in formation. Others say they’ve seen white, Tic Tac–shaped vehicles. Aside from drones, all engines rely on burning fuel to generate power, but these vehicles all had no air intake, nowindand no exhaust.
The Navy knows how this sounds. It knows what you must be thinking. But the fact stands that some pilots are saying they’ve seen strange things in the sky, and that’s concerning. So the Navy is trying to assure pilots that they won’t be laughed out of the cockpit or deemed unhinged if they bring it up. “For safety and security concerns, the Navy and the [U.S. Air Force] takes these reports very seriously and investigates each and every report,” the Navy said in a statement to Politico.
Yet even as the Navy indicates it’s willing to discuss the taboo topic, it’s also shying away from three notorious little letters. UFO carries an airport’s worth of baggage, bursting with urban legends, government secrecy, and over-the-top Hollywood movies. The statements and quotes that the Navy provided to news outlets are devoid of any reference to UFOs. Instead, they’re called “unexplained aerial phenomena,” “unidentified aircraft,” “unauthorized aircraft,” and, perhaps most intriguing, “suspected incursions.”
The message is, if you see something, say something, but for God’s sake, lower your voice. Don’t call it a UFO. Which is funny, since the military came up with the name in the first place.