© Brian Johnston
Erik Larsen and Dan Radel
Asbury Park Press
What exactly was that in the night sky over Wall Township on St. Patrick’s Day?
Was it a UFO, or was it something else?
Jeff Wallace, 43, of Wall, would sure like to know. He was driving to pick up his stepdaughter from the Quick Chek on Belmar Boulevard that Saturday night, when he observed three lights in a triangular pattern “moving very slowly” across the sky.
He stopped his vehicle and took several photos of the lights with the camera on his smartphone. The photos are dark; but a triangle of lights is faintly visible.
The Air Force, which commands Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, about 30 miles from Wall as the crow flies (or UFO), looked at the photos; it doesn’t know what it was either.
“There’s not enough from the photos … we weren’t able to tell,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Lauren Russell, a spokeswoman for the Joint Base, after copies of the photos were circulated by personnel there.
And with that, Wallace joins the thousands of other New Jerseyans who say they have seen a UFO in the sky, without knowing for sure what they saw. The National UFO Reporting Center says on its website that it has received nearly 2,200 reports of UFO sightings in New Jersey, with the first one reported back in 1930. MUFON – the acronym for the nonprofit Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network – says there were eight sightings, not including Wallace’s, just in March.
Interest in UFOs has been on the rise of late, with more videos of UFO sightings from Navy pilots being declassified. One of the more recent included Navy pilots being amazed by what a UFO could do as they trailed it flying over the Eastern Seaboard in 2015.
What’s out there?
On Feb. 26, a person reported seeing a 40-foot-long, disk-like craft with rows of red and white alternating lights hovering over the trees in Jackson, according to a report filed with the National UFO Reporting Center. The center also had two reports from Tinton Falls, one on Dec. 28 – a rapidly falling white-blue light – and another on Jan. 10, with a report of a black, oval-shaped craft.
Of the eight cases of UFO sightings over New Jersey in March reported to MUFON, spokesman Roger Marsh said two of the sightings involved triangular-shaped objects similar to what Wallace saw in Wall: One in Egg Harbor Township three days before the Wall incident, on March 14, and another over North Brunswick five days later, on March 22, Marsh said.
MUFON, which has been in existence since 1969, is a national organization of civilians that includes scientists, retired military personnel, aviation experts and ordinary people who have witnessed things they simply can’t explain. The network catalogs and tracks cases of alleged UFO sightings on a daily basis from across the globe.
Michael Schratt, a military aerospace historian with MUFON, said he is convinced that about 95 percent of the “triangles” reported by eyewitnesses, are in fact man-made aircraft. The remaining 5 percent – unknown.
© Brian Johnston
“The primary focus of my research deals with ‘black budget’ classified aircraft built and test flown by the U.S. military-industrial complex,” Schratt said. “Specifically, aircraft produced by manufacturing facilities along the West Coast – aka ‘Aerospace Alley.'”
Schratt said he has come to believe this is the case after spending the past 35 years interviewing engineers, test pilots and contractors who have worked in what he refers to as the “black world.”
Indeed, most UFOs that people see with any detail tend to be isosceles triangles – much like stealth airplanes. In many reports, the craft are reported to be moving slowly – too slow for commercial aircraft – and utterly silent.
The New York Times first reported in December about a mysterious $22 million Pentagon program tracking UFOs called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program.
At the same time as the story was published in The Times, the Defense Department declassified two videos from 2004 off the Southern California coast that were recorded by cameras aboard U.S. Navy fighter jets, which included the simultaneous audio of the radio communications between the pilots.
Pilots David Fravor and Jim Slaight, who were flying in F/A-18F Super Hornets, had described seeing an oval-shaped object hovering above the sea below them, USA Today reported.
When they flew lower to have a look at it, Fravor said, “it accelerated like nothing I’ve seen before,” they told the newspaper.
Fravor told USA Today he was mystified by what he saw in the 2004 incident: “It had no (exhaust) plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s. I want to fly one.”
After that third video of UFOs over the Eastern Seaboard was released, The Washington Post published an opinion piece titled, “The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn’t the Pentagon care?” which was penned by Christopher Mellon, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
“The videos, along with observations by pilots and radar operators, appear to provide evidence of the existence of aircraft far superior to anything possessed by the United States or its allies,” Mellon wrote in The Post. “Defense Department officials who analyze the relevant intelligence confirm more than a dozen such incidents off the East Coast alone since 2015. In another recent case, the Air Force launched F-15 fighters last October in a failed attempt to intercept an unidentified high-speed aircraft looping over the Pacific Northwest.”
But not everyone believes the videos are all that compelling.
Robert Sheaffer, author of “Bad UFOs: Critical Thinking About UFO Claims” and operator of the website “The Debunker’s Domain,” is a self-avowed skeptic.
“They have only released two very blurry infrared videos of objects that appear to be distant jets, without sufficient information to do a really good analysis of them,” Sheaffer told Space.com for a Jan. 9 article. “So, ultimately, all you have are a few UFO believers in and outside government who were able to get away with funneling a few million Pentagon dollars to themselves for UFO research, and have very little to show for it.”
‘The truth is out there’
Ret. Air Force Major George Filer III, 82, who serves as the New Jersey director of MUFON, is one of the believers. As a former flight and intelligence officer with a 20-year service record, he said he has personally witnessed some pretty bizarre phenomena. He asserted that he knows firsthand that four-star generals and admirals are briefed regularly about “anomalous aerial vehicles.”
When Filer was stationed in Great Britain and assigned to an air tanker unit at the height of the Cold War, he recalls flying aboard a military aircraft over Scotland that attempted to intercept such an object that appeared as big as a bridge on radar.
“When we got closer, we could see lights off in the distance – kind of like a cruise ship you would see at night, with multiple lights across it,” he said. “As we got, I don’t know, about 5 miles from it – it went up into space. And we were doing over 400 (miles per hour) and I would say it was doing 10, 20 times our speed and it was this huge object. So we were convinced that it was something that was not ours, let’s put it that way. … To me, it looked like a long cylinder.”
Filer doesn’t know who or what is piloting these vehicles, but he has his own theories. If they are visitors from another world, that they may be using the world’s oceans to conceal themselves from detection – which is why there are so many sightings near water, he postulates.
Ufology, the study of UFOs, attracts people from all walks of life. But because of the social stigma associated with seeing a UFO and the assumption that UFO means “alien spaceship,” when it simply means that something is simply unidentified, most people won’t even discuss their experiences unless someone first shares their own, Filer said.
In fact, Filer believes that many more people have seen UFOs than have not – but because of fears about being labeled a kook, they keep such accounts mainly to family and close friends.
The ridicule factor has been quite effective in silencing people, Filer said.
One colorful character from Mercer County, who embraces the eccentricity of this subculture is Pat Marcattilio, 75 – who goes by the nickname “Dr. UFO,” which is also emblazoned across his personalized license plates.
Marcattilio, of Hamilton, is the founder of the New Jersey/Pennsylvania UFO Paranormal Study Group. Since 1984, the group has met monthly at the Hamilton Township Free Public Library to share their interest in the subject.
“I was coming home from Atlantic City with a bunch of guys in my car and the State Police pulled me over at Columbus,” Marcattilio said. “So I pulled over and (the trooper) walks up to me and said, ‘Hey, I gotta tell you my UFO story.'”
Marcattilio believes that the government is not only aware of the existence of extraterrestrial life, but is in fact concealing such evidence from the public. Why? To avoid the same mass hysteria that occurred not far from his home 80 years ago this October – when some Americans listening to their radios became convinced that Martians were invading Grover’s Mill during a performance of “The War of the Worlds” led by Orson Welles.
“I think we’ve gone way beyond that, we accept them, I believe,” he said. “I think it’s time for them to be real and for the government to say that we have galactic neighbors and they’re visiting us.”
Back in Wall, Wallace doesn’t know what he snapped a photo of on that night one month ago, when he said the sky was “clear enough to see stars.”
Wallace was about a quarter-mile from Camp Evans, a former signal laboratory for the U.S. War Department, when he first spotted the object. The site witnessed a milestone in scientific history on Jan. 10, 1946, when Signal Corps scientists used a radar antenna to bounce radio signals off the moon.
“I guess you could call me a star gazer. I’m pretty observant of my surroundings,” Wallace said. “I’ve been skeptical about UFOs my whole life, but the lights could have been a UFO. They started moving erratically in a pattern that was not like a plane.”
Wallace said he observed a meteor once, but this wasn’t like any meteor he ever saw. He noted that he had never seen a light pattern like the one he witnessed on March 17.
Then, after he took the photos, whatever it was just vanished.
Friend, foe or unknown force flying overhead? Congress should find out
Since 2015, dozens of Navy F-18 fighter jets have encountered unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs) — once commonly referred to as UFOs — off the East Coast of the United States, some not far from the nation’s capital. Encounters have been reported by other military aircraft and civilian airliners elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, too, including videos shot by airline passengers.
What these UAPs were and who was flying them — whether friends, foes or unknown forces — remains a mystery. Yet careful examination of the data inevitably leads to one possible, disturbing conclusion: A potential adversary of the United States has mastered technologies we do not yet understand to achieve capabilities we cannot yet match.
It is long past time for Congress to discover the answers to those questions and to share at least some of its conclusions with the public.
The U.S. government came a large step closer to confirming the reality of UAPs when the U.S. Navy acknowledged in late April that “there have been a number of reports of unauthorized and/or unidentified aircraft entering various military-controlled ranges and designated airspace in recent years.”
But first, members of Congress and the public need to become familiar with the facts.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to gauge the overall level of UAP activity since military personnel rarely report their encounters for fear of damage to their careers. Even when reports are filed, the information generally is ignored because nobody “owns” the UAP issue and the various commands and agencies involved have not shared information on UAPs.
It remains to be seen whether the Navy’s new UAP reporting process will be emulated throughout our massive, almost feudal security apparatus in which the barons sometimes spend more time protecting bureaucratic turf from rivals than protecting U.S. territory from adversaries. Thus, any genuine solution to the UAP issue must address the issue of interagency coordination and collaboration.
The good news is that America already possesses vast sensor networks, ranging from the depths of the oceans to the harsh bleakness of space, capable of collecting the requisite information. All that Congress need do at this juncture is require the secretary of Defense and the director of national intelligence to review the UAP issue and deliver a report providing a comprehensive assessment. This report should include not only an estimate of the situation but a description of the structure and processes required to ensure effective collection and analysis going forward.
The Trump administration should be free to provide the report at whatever level of classification it deems appropriate. One entity with which I am involved — To the Stars Academy (TTSA), an organization of former U.S. intelligence and national security experts analyzing the UAP phenomenon — has placed notional legislative language on its website to facilitate this discussion. While some modest manpower costs might be incurred, the TTSA proposal does not require new Defense Department funding. It also averts the spectacle of public hearings and the attendant risk of injecting partisanship or grandstanding into the process.
Why should Congress act? In the first instance because it is Congress’s job to raise, organize and fund the military. It can hardly do so without being fully aware of the threats we face. Indeed, that is why we have a law requiring written notice to Congress of serious intelligence failures. Most Americans would no doubt agree that our inability to identify scores of mysterious aircraft repeatedly violating restricted U.S. military airspace in recent years is a shocking failure. But there is no need to wrangle over compliance with intelligence oversight laws. The Navy’s recent admissions regarding UAP intrusions provide more than adequate grounds for requiring a written report to Congress.
Perhaps we’ll learn that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not idly boasting when he bragged, more than a decade ago, that Russia’s “newest technical systems will be capable of destroying targets at an intercontinental distance with hypersonic speed and extreme maneuverability.” While it seems unlikely that Russia — or China — has pulled that far ahead of the U.S., there is no reason to leave this to chance. And while the Navy’s announcement seems to eliminate the prospect that these vehicles are secret U.S. military aircraft, perhaps we’ll find that Elon Musk has some amazing new toys.
It is not just that the UAPs that military pilots are encountering are strange — no paint, rivets, wings, antenna, safety lights, transponders or exhaust — but they sometimes are so fast and maneuverable that they defy our understanding of physics. For example, some of these vehicles appear to withstand forces of acceleration far greater than maximum design limits of any man-made aircraft. No wonder some military witnesses — often, pilots who are scientists or engineers themselves — actually lean toward the hypothesis that they are not from this world. Like all good scientists, these pilots recognize that our theories must adjust to facts and new information, however daunting, not the other way around.
If our best minds were brought to bear to study the technology confronting us, much as the Japanese did in the 1850s when confronted by Admiral Perry’s fleet, then unprecedented technological breakthroughs could occur in short order. For example, the fact that these craft do not seem to produce exhaust yet fly vast distances at immense speeds could provide technical solutions to our energy crisis.
Some of America’s finest aviators and air defense personnel are trying to get our attention. They are not panicked — but they are right to be concerned. It seems clear the facts demand further action. In light of the facts, a mere report requirement seems a very modest response to potentially disturbing new national security information.
If UAPs turn out to be toys of Elon Musk’s making, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief. If they are Russian, we’ll be glad we took action now rather than kicking the can down the road. If we learn that someone else’s more advanced version of our Voyager spacecraft has reached Earth, then this humble measure will forever transform our understanding of the universe and man’s place within it.
By any measure, the effort required to prepare a report for Congress seems to be a bargain.
Christopher Mellon served 20 years in the federal government and was deputy assistant Defense secretary for intelligence from 1999 to 2002, and for security and information operations from 1998 to 1999. From 2002 to 2004, he was minority staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence under Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.). He is a national security affairs adviser for To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science and a consultant to HISTORY’s nonfiction series, “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation,” which premieres May 31.
Alien Life Might Be so Advanced That It’s Indistinguishable From the Laws of Physics
We’ve never seen aliens … or have we? No, Roswell conspirators, not now. Please sit down. We’re talking in multitudes of higher complexity.
Try this on: Maybe aliens are the puppet masters behind the laws of physics. Or maybe aliens literally are physics. Just when we thought we had a grasp on the fundamental constants of the universe, boom, dark matter rips off the mask, and it’s E.T. Too crazy to be true? Prove it.
Related Video: The Physics of Life
British science-fiction writer and futurist Arthur C. Clarke famously formulated three adages known as Clarke’s three laws. Of them, number three steals most of the spotlight: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Consider cavemen for a moment. If you hand-delivered an iPhone to an ancient cave-dweller, he’d be dumbfounded at the “magical” device. But give it some time, and Fred Flintstone would probably start tweeting and Snapchatting. Now, let’s crank ‘er up a notch. Imagine technology so advanced, it’s not even recognizable as technology, or magic, for that matter. It could be so advanced that calling it magic would be an insult. Sorry, David Blaine.
One-Word Explanation for Anything: ALIENS
This isn’t all some far-out psychedelic rambling. (Even if it were, we’d still be here for it.) As bonkers as it may sound, Scharf argues that his thought experiment could explain the most mysterious cosmic phenomena. Take our dear ol’ elusive friend, dark matter. This unseen stuff makes up 27 percent of the observable universe, but virtually everything else about it is famously unknown. Based on the assumptions and predictions of cosmologists and astronomers, dark matter could be much more complicated than we’re ready to understand. Inconsistencies between dark matter models and observations only back that up.
With all this apparent complexity, Scharf says it wouldn’t be outlandish to think that technologically advanced life is stored there. “What better way to escape the nasty vagaries of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to adopt a form that is immune to electromagnetic radiation? Upload your world to the huge amount of real estate on the dark side and be done with it.” The inconsistencies might just be a result of being artificially tampered with.
You can run a similar exercise with the elusive dark energy, which makes up roughly 68 percent of the universe. The universe didn’t start expanding at an accelerated rate until a cool 5 billion years ago, and scientists don’t know why. Well, well, well, how convenient.
According to Scharf, an advanced alien civilization could have bumped the speed up so they wouldn’t have to live in such a crowded, hot mess of a universe. “Any very early life in the universe would have already experienced 8 billion years of evolutionary time by the time expansion began to accelerate,” he writes. “It’s a stretch, but maybe there’s something about life itself that affects the cosmos, or maybe those well-evolved denizens decided to tinker with the expansion.”
Note that the ideas Scharf is putting out there are just that: ideas. None of this is peer-reviewed or even testable (YET). This is just one brave astrobiologist on a mission to brainstorm the boundaries of theoretical possibility and make you paranoid beyond all reason that every inescapable, so-called law of “nature” affecting you is extraterrestrial intelligence. We’re just having fun, kids!
Scharf signs off with a mind-bender: “Perhaps hyper-advanced life isn’t just external. Perhaps it’s already all around. It is embedded in what we perceive to be physics itself, from the root behavior of particles and fields to the phenomena of complexity and emergence. In other words, life might not just be in the equations. It might be the equations.”
Want more from Carl Scharf? Check out this book “The Copernicus Complex: Our Cosmic Significance in a Universe of Planets and Probabilities.”
A pilot of the Turkish Airlines company records a UFO from the cabin
It has always been said that the only people who see UFOs are anonymous people, who get carried away by the stereotype that has been perpetuated by the world of science fiction, leading to erroneous identifications of what they have witnessed. But the reality is quite another, UFOs are sighted by men and women from all walks of life, and from all social and economic classes: from chefs to bankers, cleaning staff to surgeons, writers and politicians. So, it should not surprise us that those who spend their working days in the heavens also witness the so-called anomalous aerial phenomena . In fact, the cases of encounters of pilots with UFOs are considered more credible than any other.
And if we have to mention a particular case, the first thing that comes to mind is the flight 1628 of Japan Air Lines was, a UFO incident that occurred on November 17, 1986. The crew of the Japanese cargo plane Boeing 747- 200F, which was en route from Paris to Narita International Airport, near Tokyo, saw a UFO, in addition to being detected by the radars. The meeting lasted approximately seven minutes and the crew, made up of the captain, the co-pilot and the flight engineer, assured that two spacecraft stopped in front of the plane while emitting very intense lights, to such an extent that they felt the heat in the interior cabin.
The witnesses had experience and lots of flight hours, including Captain Teraushi Kenju, a former Japanese fighter pilot with more than 29 years of flight experience. Undoubtedly, this incident is one of the best known UFO cases in the history of aviation, but it is not the only one. Now, a stunt pilot has recorded a UFO flying at high speed from his cabin during a flight.
The Turkish UFO
Turkish captain Atilla Şentürk, from the Turkish Airlines area company, saw the strange object during a commercial flight from Istanbul to Cologne on May 10 . Şentürk recorded the white object moving in circles at an “incredible speed” from his plane. Half tricks have published the video, which shows the UFO emitting flashes of light on the horizon. Due to its distance from the plane, the object can not be clearly seen.
“During the flight from Germany to Cologne, we saw an incredibly bright object at high altitude ,” Şentürk told CNN in Turkey . “It was not a satellite or a star.”
The pilot added that the object quickly disappeared moments after it was recorded. Although the media usually report on UFO sightings, the pilot declared that he himself had never seen anything like it in his entire career.
“It was the first time I saw something like this,” added Şentürk. “He was very close to us and very bright despite the sun. I had never seen anything fly so fast. “
In addition to the captain, the flight cabin supervisor and the First Officer also witnessed the object of unknown origin . Since the images were taken by a pilot of a commercial plane, the Turkish media have echoed the unusual encounter. And how could it be otherwise, social networks have also reacted. There are many who have been surprised with what you see in the video, ensuring that the UFO was following the trajectory of the plane.
They also recalled that an incident similar to 2013 could have occurred, when a Boeing 757 from the Air China company hit an unidentified flying object . On that occasion, the encounter occurred at an altitude of 26,000 feet only 20 minutes after the plane took off.
There were no injuries between the passengers and the crew, but the plane was forced to make an emergency landing at the Shuangliu airport in China. Although most surprising of all was that when landing, the operators saw the aircraft visibly damaged. For the skeptics, both the sighting of Şentürk and similar ones are simply wrong identifications, completely forgetting that the witnesses are experienced pilots with a large number of flight hours.
What is your opinion about the video? Is it a UFO chasing the plane? Or do you have another explanation?
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