Scanning the headlines last week, I read that a “blue orb” was spotted in the sky on Easter Sunday. Although UFO stories are a dime a dozen these days, this story was still special to me—the unusual light was sighted over the town I grew up, Roseville, Mich., a suburb on the east side of Detroit.
“What in the out-of-this-world is this?” joked the smooth-voiced announcer of the local Fox news affiliate, as vague photos of a blue streak flashed up on the screen. “We’ll work to try to get an answer for you, coming up later on.”
I’m not sure what people in Roseville actually saw, but I do know that UFO coverage has changed in the last decade. Claims of strange phenomena, which had previously been met with immediate disdain are slowly but steadily getting a chance to be heard.
So what accounts for the growing acknowledgment of UFO reports? Some trace it to the rise of the Internet, the gradual release of formally classified government documents, and a growing determination among eyewitnesses to speak out. I personally noticed a big shift in this type of coverage with an incident over Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport a few years back.
On Nov. 7, 2006, at least a dozen United Airlines employees saw a saucer hovering over gate C-17. Witnesses described a metallic-looking craft granting a several minute display during afternoon rush hour. After delivering an eye-catching performance, the object took off with such speed and force that it punctured a hole in the clouds—a slowly dissipating shape for onlookers to contemplate for a lifetime.
Transportation reporter Jon Hilkevitch of the Chicago Tribune wrote an article on the incident that the publication has since identified as the “best-read online story” in its history. But getting the facts didn’t come easy. United and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claimed to have no information about the incident until the Tribune filed a Freedom of Information Act request. Later, United employees who personally witnessed the craft explained that the company told them to refrain from speaking about what they saw.
“I know that what I saw and what a lot of other people saw stood out very clearly, and it definitely was not an [Earth] aircraft," a mechanic told the Tribune.
Despite testimonies from pilots and other airline technicians whose job demands that they see and properly identify aerial activity, the FAA deemed the matter unworthy of investigation. Despite claims of witnessing a technology not yet known to this world, United officials dismissed the event as a weather phenomenon.
Evidently, the official response was to act as if eyewitnesses were delusional children unfamiliar with the sight of a passing cloud.
Articles like Hilkevitch’s point to a diminishing faith in the official story—an unfounded tale that has long served as little more than a knee-jerk reaction to shoot down any out-of-the-ordinary observation. While critics repeatedly argue that UFOs aren’t recognized by science, many suggest it is only because science refuses to acknowledge the evidence.
In her article “UFOs—A Challenge to Mainstream Science” Patricia B. Corbett explores the reasons behind this stubborn resistance. Corbett observes how the UFO phenomenon has been historically portrayed as a “goofy, fringe subject of interest only to the uneducated, fans of science fiction and others with over-excited imaginations.” As a result, scientists—concerned with maintaining credibility and reputation—are left little choice but to collectively disavow anything that challenges group denial.
“There is plenty of hard data about all aspects of the UFO phenomenon just begging for scientific evaluation,” writes Corbett. “What is needed on the part of science today is a radical shift in its worldview, in its mindset.”
While this mindset is changing, it still has a long way to go. Late last week, Detroit Fox News reported “mystery solved,” claiming the blue light in Roseville many saw was merely a homemade toy plane, decorated with strands of blue and red LED lights. But not everyone’s convinced. Eyewitnesses challenge the media explanation in the comments below the online article.
I’m not sure what the people of my hometown saw, but if there are indeed beings that possess a highly advanced technology, I can assure you that they didn’t get there by systematically denying unusual observations.