By Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean
May 26, 2019
WASHINGTON — The strange objects, one of them like a spinning top moving against the wind, appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015, high in the skies over the East Coast. Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.
“These things would be out there all day,” said Lt. Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years, and who reported his sightings to the Pentagon and Congress. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”
In late 2014, a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were videotaped, including one taken by a plane’s camera in early 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.
“Wow, what is that, man?” one exclaims. “Look at it fly!”
No one in the Defense Department is saying that the objects were extraterrestrial, and experts emphasize that earthly explanations can generally be found for such incidents. Lieutenant Graves and four other Navy pilots, who said in interviews with The New York Times that they saw the objects in 2014 and 2015 in training maneuvers from Virginia to Florida off the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, make no assertions of their provenance.
But the objects have gotten the attention of the Navy, which earlier this year sent out new classified guidance for how to report what the military calls unexplained aerial phenomena, or unidentified flying objects.
Videos filmed by Navy pilots show two encounters with flying objects. One was captured by a plane’s camera off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., on Jan. 20, 2015. That footage, published previously but with little context, shows an object tilting like a spinning top moving against the wind. A pilot refers to a fleet of objects, but no imagery of a fleet was released. The second video was taken a few weeks later.CreditCreditU.S. Department of Defense
Joseph Gradisher, a Navy spokesman, said the new guidance was an update of instructions that went out to the fleet in 2015, after the Roosevelt incidents.
“There were a number of different reports,” he said. Some cases could have been commercial drones, he said, but in other cases “we don’t know who’s doing this, we don’t have enough data to track this. So the intent of the message to the fleet is to provide updated guidance on reporting procedures for suspected intrusions into our airspace.”
The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings “a striking series of incidents.”
Navy pilots from the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” squadron aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in 2015. The squadron began noticing strange objects just after the Navy upgraded the radar systems on its F/A-18 fighter planes.CreditAdam Ferguson for The New York Times
Image Navy pilots from the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” squadron aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in 2015. The squadron began noticing strange objects just after the Navy upgraded the radar systems on its F/A-18 fighter planes.CreditAdam Ferguson for The New York Times
The program, which began in 2007 and was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time, was officially shut down in 2012 when the money dried up, according to the Pentagon. But the Navy recently said it currently investigates military reports of U.F.O.s, and Mr. Elizondo and other participants say the program — parts of it remain classified — has continued in other forms. The program has also studied video that shows a whitish oval object described as a giant Tic Tac, about the size of a commercial plane, encountered by two Navy fighter jets off the coast of San Diego in 2004.
Leon Golub, a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said the possibility of an extraterrestrial cause “is so unlikely that it competes with many other low-probability but more mundane explanations.” He added that “there are so many other possibilities — bugs in the code for the imaging and display systems, atmospheric effects and reflections, neurological overload from multiple inputs during high-speed flight.”
Lieutenant Graves still cannot explain what he saw. In the summer of 2014, he and Lt. Danny Accoin, another Super Hornet pilot, were part of a squadron, the VFA-11 “Red Rippers” out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., that was training for a deployment to the Persian Gulf.
Lieutenants Graves and Accoin spoke on the record to The Times about the objects. Three other pilots in the squadron also spoke to The Times about the objects but declined to be named.
Lieutenants Graves and Accoin, along with former American intelligence officials, appear in a six-part History Channel series, “Unidentified: Inside America’s U.F.O. Investigation,” to air beginning Friday. The Times conducted separate interviews with key participants.
Tom DeLonge: America has Been Investigating UFOs for Years. Time for the Rest of Us To Catch Up
On 5/30/19 at 5:10 AM EDT
About 25 years ago, I read a non-fiction book about UFOs while on tour with Blink-182 that blew my mind.
This was a time before smartphones, so being on a tour bus for weeks on end meant we were forced to keep ourselves occupied if we were bored. I chose to read. Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret detailed a historical chronology of UFO events in conjunction with domestic and foreign space programs and militaries. It wasn't just a solitary event, but a chain of occurrences. I remember repeating as I was reading, “Oh my god, this is massive.” I probably annoyed the hell out of my bandmates.
Before reading that book, I thought the idea of E.T. and unknown flying vehicles were confined to the realm of science-fiction, which I’d always loved as a kid. But I had no idea these crafts were real and in fact interacting with nuclear missiles, NASA missions and facilities, astronauts, and even civilians.
The book opened my eyes to the enormity of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), filling me with curiosity and propelling me on a hunt for knowledge that quite literally changed the course of my life. I became consumed with questions about UAP: How do they travel at such incredible speeds? Who or what are they? Who actually knows the facts and holds the most credible evidence?
I followed many paths of discovery in the field—some peculiar, but all exciting. Back then, I was young and naive, and had trouble separating fact from fiction. As any serious researcher will tell you, UAP and its attendant fields are filled with truly crazy misinformation from countless unreliable characters.
As a result, I undertook the project of seeking out legitimate sources, and learned that for most of history, people thought it was crazy to even think about the possibility of UAP. Things briefly started to change after 1947, when numerous people, both pedestrian and high-level military and government personnel, started witnessing unidentified objects in the sky; military pilots, U.S. presidents, scientists, doctors, lawyers, farmers, politicians, teachers, and children.
During World War II, unknown at first to most of the public, UFOs appeared over our battlefields, nuclear weapons facilities, and even the U.S. Capitol. The highest levels of the U.S. government eventually spoke plainly and publicly about “flying saucers.” For 17 years, the U.S. Air Force’s secret government sector Project Blue Book compiled reports of tens of thousands of UFO sightings, roughly 10 percent of which could not be explained by science. After some dismissive conclusions at the dismantling of the project, disbelief returned, and lasted for decades. Once again, UFOs were thought to be a preoccupation of the truly crazy.
But my investigation has led me to believe it’s naïve to think that UAPs don’t exist. In my quest for knowledge, there have been detractors and naysayers aplenty. But the more I’ve been able to share my ideas with people I respected, the more sense of community I felt. And I want other people to feel that way too.
For the past few years, I’ve been in regular communication with people at the highest levels of our intelligence agencies and military branches. It’s unreal company to keep, and has empowered me to become a steward of the information I have and to treat it with respect and humility. The ideas and my new cohorts encouraged me create To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA).
I envisioned a model that educates (through exciting entertainment), investigates (through scientific research) and innovates (through aerospace engineering). Our team is made up of some of the most experienced, connected, and passionately curious minds from the U.S. intelligence community that have been operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades. The team members all share a common thread of frustration and determination to disrupt the status quo and ultimately, to protect the American people by making them aware of what we need to know about our skies.
This quest to reveal the truth, and desire to share what we know about UAP with the masses propelled us to partner with HISTORY, one of the most unbiased and authentic brands in television, to produce “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation TM.” This six part, non-fiction series premiering on Friday, May 31 st will give the public an opportunity to see newly authenticated evidence and footage; learn the common characteristics of how these UAP move and operate; and perhaps, most significantly, see interviews from eyewitnesses and former military personnel who have never spoken out before.
Together, TTSA and HISTORY have created a truly remarkable program that gives an unprecedented amount of information about UAP and that will hopefully spark the public to ask questions and look for answers. This is not a UFO hunting show, but rather an opportunity to be transparent and thorough with what we have uncovered about these unknown aircraft infiltrating our skies, and share our opinion on how we should be addressing them.
Ultimately, acknowledging and studying the existence of UAP will help us better understand what else is out there and how we fit in. It impacts not only our perception of who we are as human beings but also our understanding of where we’re going and how we treat each other. And that might be the greatest change of all.
Tom DeLonge is co-founder of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science and Executive Producer of “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation” premiering May 31 at 10pm on HISTORY.