Top 5 (Well, 6) UFO Sightings in History
The truth is out there. It’s just… you’d think with all the cellphone cameras out there someone would have figured it out by now. But despite some of the more bizarre life forms stalking the New York subways, no definitive proof of extraterrestrial life exists.
Few people would think that we’re alone in the universe anymore. At the beginning of the 20th century, humanity was shocked to learn the Milky Way wasn’t the only galaxy in the universe. Today we know at minimum there are 100 billion galaxies in the universe. It’s hard to wrap our primitive primate brains around that one. But whether or not life is out there isn’t the question. It’s whether or not any them have been probing our humble little abode.
If you look at the stories of alien encounters and UFO sightings, striking similarities begin to emerge. Why is it that even in remote parts of the world, isolated from popular media, the story of little grey men with the big heads and cold large eyes always turn up? That’s why we’re counting off the top five UFO sightings.*
*UFO are real. UFO stands for unidentified flying object. Technically, if you see something flying in the sky, and can’t figure out what it is, it’s an unidentified flying object. The real question shouldn’t be whether UFOs are real, but if alien spaceships are real. Just a pet peeve of mine.
5. The Lubbock Lights
In Lubbock, Texas on Aug. 25, 1951, reports came in of a V formation of mysterious luminous lights darting across the night sky. (Public Domain)
Over the skies of Lubbock, Texas on August 25 1951, reports came in from a couple of crackpots that a V formation of mysterious luminous lights darted across the night sky. Oh wait, they were three professors from Texas Technological College. About 20-30 lights described as bright as stars, but far larger crossed the night sky in a matter of seconds. Then another V formation followed.
But the professors weren’t the only ones. Witness around Lubbock also reported seeing the mysterious orbs. Then on August 30, local Texas Tech freshman Carl Hart, Jr. took a photo. The same professors also witnessed a fly-over on September 5 and were able to calculate they were travelling at least 600 miles per hour.
The official Air Force explanation: they were birds! 600 mph birds…
Apparently a type of migratory bird called plovers flew over the city and the newly installed street lamps reflected light off their bellies and that’s what everyone saw. There’s no explanation for why this phenomenon doesn’t happen more often considering how many cities around the world have birds and street lamps.
4. Goodness Gracious, Great Green Fireballs of uh, Fire
Between December 1948 and April 1955, hundreds of witness, including military scientists and astronomers sent to investigate, witnessed green fireballs streaking through the skies of New Mexico. Meteors, right? Not according to meteor expert Dr. Lincoln LaPaz who was sent to investigate by the government. A lot of these fireballs were flying through the skies over Los Alamos National Laboratory. You may know it as the home of the Manhattan Project, the thing that gave us the world’s first atomic bombs. So since this was Cold War times and the fireballs were happening near a nuclear research facility, the government took it pretty seriously.
Dr. LaPaz said there was no way the green fireballs could be meteors because they were moving too slowly and they weren’t breaking apart the way meteors do. His best guess was it was some radical new Soviet aircraft because it sure wasn’t anything that occurs in nature. But the government went ahead and gave “meteors” as the official explanation, something LaPaz spent years denying. Some said it could be fallout from nuclear testing, considering it was near a nuclear facility, but since that’s never happened ever, it was also dismissed. The final conclusion: The green fireballs were balls. That were on fire. And green.
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3. Battle of Los Angeles, February 24-25, 1942
The original article in L.A. Times describing the scene on Feb. 24, 1942 where the U.S. military fired 1,400 12.8-pond of shells into the Los Angeles Sky. (L.A. Times archive)
Why does everything bad happen in Los Angeles? On Feb. 24, 1942, less than 3 months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, air raid sirens greeted the citizens of the City of Angels. A complete blackout was ordered throughout Los Angeles County. Why? Because there was a UFO hovering above the city. Seriously, there were photos. The 37th Coast Artillery Brigade fired 1,400 12.8-POUND ANTI-AIRCRAFT SHELLS INTO THE SKIES OF LOS ANGELES! People reported seeing the UFO take hit after hit without damage.
A few hours after the air raid ended, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox held a press conference and said it was a false alarm. And in 1983, the Office of Air Force History said the object was probably a meteorological balloon. Of course, that was not a comfort to the four or five citizens killed by anti-aircraft fire and the other three that died of heart attacks supposedly caused by the stress of seeing THE MILITARY BLOWING UP THE SKIES OF LA!
2. Belgium UFO Wave
A mysterious triangular object with a shimmering underside was reportedly seen by 13,500 people in Belgium between Nov. 1989 and April 1990. (J.S. Henrardi/Public domain)
This took place between November 1989 and April 1990. A mysterious triangular object with a shimmering underside stalked the skies of Belgium, witnessed by 143 people on the first night alone. By April 1990, 13,500 people on the ground had seen it, all describing the same object. It was even being spotted by a NATO radar station and chased by two Belgium F-16 fighter jets. The UFO didn’t respond to any hails. The pilots said the mysterious object moved faster than anything they’d ever seen, accomplishing maneuvers impossible for any known aircraft. It was able to accelerate from about 60 mph to 500 mph while making a 3,000 foot drop in 2 seconds. And yet despite the rapid acceleration, there was no sonic boom.
But to be fair, professionally trained jet fighter pilots aren’t the most reliable. Take Captain Thomas F. Mantell for example. He was a pilot for the Kentucky Air National Guard. Over his career, in which he was decorated for his service in the Battle of Normandy in World War II, he racked up over 2,000 hours of flight time. On Jan. 7, 1948, a white object described as about one-fourth the size of the full moon was seen in the skies above Kentucky. The Kentucky Air National Guard sent out the 165th Fighter Squadron to chase the object down. Captain Mantell was one of them.
The object accelerated to over 500 mph and made a rapid ascent. While everyone else broke off, Mantell chased after it. At about 25,000 feet, Mantell passed out from lack of oxygen and his plane crashed, killing him. Before he passed out, he said the object “looks metallic and of tremendous size.” Of course this well-trained and experienced pilot made an honest mistake. Turns out he was either chasing a weather balloon or the Planet Venus.
Skeptics of the Belgium UFO Wave say the mysterious object was either a helicopter or a mass delusion. Anyone else getting a little worried by now?
1. Roswell (of course)
Major Jesse Marcel from the Roswell Army Air Field with debris found 75 miles north west of Roswell, NM, in June 1947. The debris has been identified as that of a radar target. (United States Air Force/AFP/Getty Images)
You know the story. Roswell, New Mexico, 1947. Alien spaceship/weather balloon. Massive government cover-up. Whatever. That’s why I’m skipping Roswell and making Number 1 something I think is much cooler.
The Real #1. The Tunguska Event
Some of the estimated 80 million trees flattened by a UFO event on June 30, 1908 in central Russia.
June 30, 1908. According to eyewitnesses, a blue-ish column of light brighter than the sun streaked across the skies of central Russia. Then a truly massive explosion erupted near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. An estimated 80 million trees were flattened in an area spanning 830 square miles. Even hundreds of kilometers away, windows shattered and people were knocked off their feet. The explosion is estimated to have been about as powerful as the Castle Bravo Thermonuclear Bomb—the second most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated.
The first explanation was a meteor impact, which would make it the largest impact event in recorded history. In 1921, the first investigation was launched, headed by Russian mineralogist Leonid Kulik working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences. He used Evenki hunters to guide his team to the impact site. But just south of the blast site, the guides turned back. The superstitious Evenki hunters said they were afraid of what they called “the Valleymen” that supposedly haunted the area.
Kulik continued on and what he found at the epicenter was not what he expected. There was no impact crater. Instead, ground zero was a vast 5-mile wide region of scorched, branchless trees, but they were all still standing upright.
Kulik made three expeditions back to Tunguska, including a 1938 aerial photographic survey of the area trying to find evidence of meteorites. For some reason, all the negatives taken from the survey were burned in 1975 by the Chairman of the Committee on Meteorites of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
Today, the leading explanation for the Tunguska event is the air burst of an asteroid roughly 3 to 6 miles above the Earth’s surface. Others suggest a comet with an unusually high concentration of deuterium may have undergone nuclear fusion, creating a naturally occurring H-bomb. Some have even suggested a miniature black hole or a piece of anti-matter as the cause.
Well, that wraps up our top 5 UFO sightings. So do you believe? Or are these just mass delusions caused by the planet Venus or a weather balloon? Let us know what you think the in comment section. For now, keep watching the skies.