The military types who recently testified before a congressional hearing about their close encounters with UFOs were not the usual suspects associated with such reports. Retired naval commander David Fravor said that he, his weapons service officer and their counterparts in another jet had seen a mysterious ‘Tic-Tac’ shaped ‘object’ while both planes were flying off San Diego in 2004. Speaking to a House of Representatives Oversight subcommittee at the end of last month, he detailed how the object’s dramatic manoeuvres – caught on video by the next flight crew to take off – were beyond the capabilities of the known.

Similar objects had, Fravor said, been picked up by advanced radar on ships in his group over the previous two weeks. In his testimony, Ryan Graves, a former fighter pilot, described many more such sightings of ‘unidentified objects’ (including ‘dark grey or black cubes inside of a clear sphere’), which were, he claimed, relatively common and ‘grossly underreported’. Graves, too, mentioned these objects’ remarkable aerodynamics. He recalled how he and members of his squadron had detected UFOs, or, to use their new designation, unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAPs), on multiple sensor systems and eventually ‘through visual ID’. ‘If UAPs are foreign drones, he commented, ‘it is an urgent national security problem, if [they are] something else, it is an issue for science.’

Given the immensity of the universe, there ought to be intelligent alien life somewhere out there. But, even allowing for the wonders of alien technology, both common sense – the vast distances involved – and the absence of any persuasive evidence mean that it is highly unlikely that E.T. has ever come calling. That said, although many of this century’s UFO/UAP sightings have since been explained away, it is too soon to declare that this puzzle (which could conceivably also be the work of, say, Russian or Chinese scientists) has been solved. It’s also worth adding that all three witnesses were under oath, and that both Fravor and Graves came across well, above all when describing events of which they had, they said, first-hand experience.

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