It sounds like the real-life X-Files: a secret Pentagon program to investigate UFO sightings. But the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, which ran from 2007 to 2012, was for real. The Pentagon made the program public in December of 2017 when they decided to close it and shift the funding elsewhere. But did they find anything?
The Pentagon’s UFO Program
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program wasn’t just two agents tucked away in a basement office. And they didn’t chase after reports of little green men from wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. As Luis Elizondo, former head of the program, told NPR,
“We had Ph.D.s, we had CI people, we had trained intelligence officers and human case officers — pretty much a full range of talent. Most of us tend to be, by nature, skeptical, because we are in the field of intelligence and national security. “
In addition, the program didn’t take reports from the public. They investigated first hand UFO observations from military people, mostly pilots. And they did their due diligence. First, they made sure that photo and video evidence really came from Department of Defense sources. Then they would cross-reference it with known phenomena like drones, commercial aircraft, missiles, and military vehicles. Elizondo said,
“There’s a lot of rigor and diligence that’s placed in looking at these, and there is some real talent in the department and in other agencies within the U.S. government that have just an incredible battery of tools to apply toward these things to make sure we know what we’re looking at.”
Alas, the Advanced Aviation Threat Investigation Program eventually fell victim not to the whims of the Cigarette Smoking Man, but to funding cuts.
Or is that what the government wants us to believe?
What Happened to the Program, Really?
The program officially ended in 2012. But did it really? Pentagon spokesperson Laura Ochoa told Huffington Post,
“The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed,”
Which one could certainly take to mean that, even though there is no longer an active UFO investigation program, the Pentagon may, occasion, look into credible reports.
Senator Harry Reid, who launched the Pentagon UFO initiative had this to say:
The truth is out there. 🛸
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) December 16, 2017
Many people still think the program is going on in secret. But they might be thinking of a different organization. After the end of the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification program, Elizondo and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Christopher Mellon went in together on a new project. The To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences is a private venture, dedicated to proving that UFOs exist. They’re also interested in exploring UFO technology for the betterment of humanity. It sounds wild, but To The Stars has assembled a heavy hitting team of former intelligence agents, scientists, aerospace engineers, and, interestingly, entertainers. They hope to use their discoveries for public benefit.
But What Did The Pentagon Actually Find?
The program did, according to Elizondo, come up with some things they couldn’t explain. Check out this video. Pilots recorded this footage from the cockpit of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet. You can hear them talking about the object, and how it seems to rotate, inexplicably, in the air. Not only did this footage come from verified Department of Defense sources, but the DOD carefully protected the chain of custody, in order to prevent tampering.
Elizondo had this to say about the video:
“If you’re asking my personal opinion from here, look, I’ve got to be honest with you, I don’t know where it’s from. But we’re pretty sure it’s not here,”
How You Can Help Scientists With The UFO Search
Are you an aspiring UFO researcher? Or maybe you’re a skeptic, and want to prove once and for all that we are alone in the universe. Whether you believe in UFOs or not, you can help scientists with their search for extraterrestrial life.
Since 1999, the University of California at Berkeley has been running a project called Seti@home. Seti@home is a crowdsourcing program that uses the power of distributed computing to analyze signal data. How it works is, radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals don’t occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology. But the search generates an incredible amount of data — so much, that it takes a huge amount of computing power to process it. This is where you come in.
Participants download a free program that runs in the background of their home computers. This additional computing power allows researchers to collect more data and analyze it more carefully. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be one of the people who helped to discover extraterrestrial life!
The truth is out there. And scholars like Stephen Hawking, who has his own teams of astronomers listening for distant radio signals, believe that there’s a good chance that we are not alone. But are UFO sightings evidence of this? Hawking says no, but former Pentagon UFO project head Luiz Elizondo couldn’t disagree more.
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