(Alex Hollings) In the past few months, the idea of Unidentified Flying Objects as spacecraft from another world has enjoyed a resurgence in the minds of the public, thanks in no small part to the revelation that the Pentagon has been secretly devoting millions of dollars to the investigation of just such anomalous sightings for years now. Of course, public interest in the idea that we’re being visited by advanced air platforms hailing from across the sea or across the galaxy, tends to be cyclical, and one could be forgiven for assuming that reports of strange objects in the sky had died down in the years since the last time the X-Files was on the air. Surprisingly, or perhaps, unsurprisingly (depending on your beliefs) that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Last year, data analyst Adam Crahen took of one of the largest databases of alleged UFO encounters online, maintained by the the aforementioned National UFO Reporting Center, and plotted all 58,828 reports submitted between 1995 and 2014 on a map of the United States. The final product is an impressive, or perhaps frightening, green swath across nearly the entirety of the United States, seemingly suggesting that UFOs are not only here, but American airspace is just lousy with them.
|Adam Crahen UFO sightings map. You can visit it here|
When laying that same map of reported UFO sightings over a U.S. map showing the locations of all military installations, an interesting trend starts to emerge: many of the regions that seem to show a high frequency of UFO reports coincide with the locations of military installations. For the conspiracy minded, this might mean our alien visitors have taken a particular interest in what our military is up to… but others might be inclined to conclude that many of these supposed UFO sightings may be nothing more than misidentified military aircraft.
|Adam Crahen’s compiled UFO sightings map overlaid with a map of U.S. military installations (Google Earth)|
It’s not as unlikely as you may think. Military aircraft are often mistaken for Unidentified Flying Objects in U.S. skies because their shape and behavior don’t adhere to the norms we’re accustomed to. Sometimes, these sightings are the result of the testing of never before seen platforms, but others, it’s simply a matter of military aircraft not exhibiting the same behavior seen from commercial aircraft above our heads. A bright light flying low over a rural region and moving in a seemingly unusual manner could be Martians… but it could also be a Blackhawk in the distance. Most people don’t have a lot of experience identifying either, through no fault of their own.
|Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, sling load 105 mm howitzers during a night air assault exercise. (U.S. Army)|
Is this a reasonable explanation for nearly 60,000 sightings spread out over a 19-year span? Maybe not, but the next time you look to the sky and think you may see an inbound flying saucer, it might be worth doing a quick search to see how far you are from the nearest air national guard base.
The answer may surprise you.
About the Author
Alex Hollings served as an active duty Marine for six and a half years before being medically retired from service. As an athlete, Hollings has raced exotic cars, played Marine Corps football and college rugby, fought in cages, and even wrestled alligators. As a scholar, he has earned a master’s degree in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, as well as undergraduate degrees in Corporate and Organizational Communications and Business Management.
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