Commander David Fravor, who was piloting one of the jets, told the paper that after a radio operator asked him to check out a mysterious aircraft, he flew to the specified location and saw the seawater churning below him. A whitish, oval-shaped aircraft was hovering above the water. “It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” Fravor told the Times, admitting that it made him feel “pretty weirded out.” Unfortunately, definitive proof that aliens are real or not is just one of those science mysteries no one has figured out.
Unidentified, but not necessarily alien
Of course, just because there’s no explanation for an event does not mean it was a visit from extraterrestrial intelligence. There are plenty of phenomena that scientists don’t understand—they’re not even sure why ice is slippery. Shostak says he doesn’t know exactly what the AATIP videos show (though he has some ideas), but he’s not convinced that they indicate cosmic visitors: “There’s no explanation for about one-third of the murders in New York City,” he says. “Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t committed by people!”
Still, humans have been spotting mysterious objects in the sky for centuries, with cases increasing dramatically in the middle of the twentieth century when aviation and the Cold War presumably made people extra wary of unexplained lights in the sky. Here are a few of the most notable examples of encounters that haven’t been solved yet.
China, 11th century
Around the year 1088, Shen Kuo, a well-respected poet and military tactician, wrote a book called Dream Pool Essays (named after his garden estate) that covered his scholarship in astronomy, mathematics, geology, zoology, botany and more. In the book, he describes what might be the first recorded UFO sighting; an object nicknamed “the Pearl” regularly appeared in the sky over Yangzhou province. Its door would open and very bright light would pour out. “The spectacle was like the rising sun, lighting up the distant sky and woods in red,” according to the text.