The Pentagon on Monday released three declassified videos that show US navy pilots encountering what appear to be unidentified flying objects.
The grainy videos, which the Pentagon says depict “unexplained aerial phenomena”, were previously leaked, with some believing they show alien UFOs.
The Pentagon said it released the footage to “to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real or whether or not there is more to the videos”, a statement on the Department of Defense website said.
“After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” the statement said.
The videos had been “circulating in the public domain after unauthorized releases in 2007 and 2017”, the statement said, adding that “the aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as ‘unidentified’”.
The three videos show what the pilots saw during training flights in 2004 and 2015. Two of the videos were published by the New York Times in 2017. The other video was released by the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science group, a media and private science organization.
The 2004 video shows an incident that happened 100 miles out over the Pacific, according to the New York Times. Two navy fighter pilots found an oblong object hovering above the water. It then flew quickly away. “It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” one of pilots, Cmdr David Fravor, told the NYT.
The 2015 videos show objects moving quickly through the sky, one of them seeming to spin in the air. “Look at that thing, dude!” a pilot says. “It’s rotating!”
The release of the videos by the Pentagon adds to the legitimacy of the videos and will spur more speculation that humans have recently interacted with extraterrestrials. The navy has guidelines for reporting UFO sightings.
In response, the former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, from Nevada, tweeted the three videos “only scratches the surface of research and materials available”.
I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed. https://t.co/1XNduvmP0u— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) April 27, 2020
Discussion about the videos and extraterrestrials have persisted throughout the upper echelons of American politics in recent years. During the earlier half of the 2016 presidential campaign Hillary Clinton said if elected president she would release files on potential UFO sightings. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, has displayed an interest in the subject as well.
Last June, Donald Trump fueled a new round of discussion in political circles about extraterrestrials when he said he had been briefed on sightings of unidentified aircraft by US navy pilots.
“I think it’s probably – I want them to think whatever they think,” Trump said to ABC News. “They do say, and I’ve seen, and I’ve read, and I’ve heard. And I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they’re seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particular.”
In September an internet hoax resulted in 75 people arriving at Area 51 – the infamous secret military facility in the Nevada desert that is rumored to house evidence of extraterrestrials – in a project to storm the base to hunt for evidence of aliens.
However, the invitation to storm Area 51 sparked festivals all across Nevada. A local sheriff estimated 1,500 people attended those festivals, underscoring the pop culture interest in evidence of extraterrestrial life.
In 2018 the Irish Aviation Authority investigated a sighting of a reported UFO by commercial airline pilots. The IAA said it would investigate the sightings but a spokesman for the organization said it was unlikely that the objects were beings from another planet.