Northick Pope spent the 1990s researching UFOs for the British Ministry of Defense. Kidnapped in a rarely visited government office – the “metaphorical basement” – he remembers well how his field of work was viewed.
“I was walking down the hall and people were whistling the theme song for Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the Twilight Zone,” Pope told The Guardian.
Towards the end of his stint at the Ministry of Defense, a new sci-fi show with a pair of FBI alien hunters was also gaining popularity. “I remember the melody to the X-Files song was whistled too,” he said.
In the nearly two decades since then, attitudes toward UFOs have been slowly changing, especially in the United States, where the issue has shifted from the fringes to the mainstream, and even former President Barack Obama weighed in on their potential existence.
Renamed by governments and enthusiasts as “UAP,” or unidentified aerial phenomena, 2021 has possibly seen the first serious discussion of unknown flying things. In June, the Pentagon will release a long-awaited report on what it knows about PSUs, and excitement over that revelation has been fueled by a host of witnesses who have come forward to share their experiences with the 60 Minutes news program on May.
Obama was one of many public figures who added their thoughts on UAPs and the Pentagon report this month.
“There are images and records of objects in the sky, we don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory,” Obama said in an interview with CBS. “They did not have an easily explainable pattern. So, you know, I think people are still serious about trying to investigate and find out what that is. “
The sincerity of the UAP discussion – “I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told 60 Minutes – is a far cry from the mockery the Pope once faced.
So what has changed in America?
“In the last three years it has risen above the rumors and has become solid evidence,” said Pope, who now lives in Arizona. “Not just the testimony of the military pilots who have been involved in encounters with these things, but also the radar data and infrared camera videos that everyone has seen.”
In recent years, a series of government videos showing UAP have been released, including images of a Navy F-18 fighter jet showing an elongated object. flying through the sky near San Diego in 2004.
This April, the photos and videos taken by Navy personnel were filtered out online, showing triangular-shaped objects whizzing in the sky, and military footage leaked in May showing an oval flying object near a Navy ship in San Diego, an apparent UAP hotspot.
Members of the navy watched UAP so frequently that encounters became commonplace, Ryan Graves, a retired navy pilot, told 60 Minutes.
“Every day,” Graves said. “Every day for at least a couple of years.”
For Ted Roe, who runs the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena, a non-profit organization where pilots or others can report their experiences with UAP, this was simply a confirmation of what he already knew.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all,” Roe said. “Somewhere in the world, this happens every day, it manifests itself constantly, daily. And from my private conversations with current and former military aviators, I feel that the reports that I receive, as far as pilot reports go, are clearly the tip of the iceberg. “
But despite all the seeming relief from the taboo around PAUs, Roe says there is still a stigma.
“No one is willing to risk their career or reputation on this issue, even now,” Roe said. “The pilots will not contact us until they retire. I would say that they are almost 50-50, the cases that I receive, which are more recent, compared to those that happened years ago and that they did not want to talk about because they would lose their flight status and because they were worried about their careers. “
The government, all governments, have been reluctant to even acknowledge that they monitor UAPs.
In 2007, the United States Department of Defense launched an “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program” to investigate UFOs. The effort was so secret that the public only found out 10 years later, after a New York Times investigation.
However, as leaked or officially released images were released, demands for transparency from the public and politicians increased, prompting the CIA to release thousands of documents on UAP in January 2021.
Rubio, the vice chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, has had a particularly strong voice and was part of a group of elected officials who managed to push forward the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 on the $ 2.3 trillion coronavirus relief spending bill signed into law by Donald Trump in December.
That law directed government agencies to provide a “detailed analysis of data and intelligence of unidentified aerial phenomena” and “a detailed description of an inter-agency process” for reporting on UFOs. The report must be delivered before June 25.
“Men and women to whom we have entrusted the defense of our country are reporting encounters with unidentified aircraft with superior capabilities,” Rubio said. the tampa bay times in mid-May.
“We cannot allow the stigma of UFOs to prevent us from seriously investigating this. The next report is a step in that process, but it will not be the last. “
The flood of recent videos and the report’s impending release has sparked excitement around unidentified flying things that haven’t been seen in years. Pope warned, however, that after years of stealth by intelligence agencies, people should not expect the government to release everything meet these mysterious objects in the sky.
“The report should be unclassified, but it could have a classified appendix, so there’s a strong possibility that any momentous event is in that classified appendix, rather than the unclassified report,” Pope said.
He added: “So people should be excited, but not too excited. They have to be pragmatic and a little management of expectations can help. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism