top of page

In Conversation with Lieutenant Ryan Graves

p. 3 of 3

          MS: What is the kind of data that for you is the best data, that you want to have and work with and use to study, to learn more about the UAP mystery?

          RG: There are two answers to that question. The first answer is, what can be gathered through the Classified systems, such as radar systems, satellite data – things of that nature. Unfortunately, that data’s classified, and likely will remain classified for a long period of time. So there is an avenue that we’re pursuing in order to provide recommendations and technical expertise to those closed data sets. 

          But we’re also pursuing open-source options, through open-source space platforms, imaging platforms, through ground-based sensors, and potentially through an open-source consortium that can share and pool resources and expertise in order to provide data on this problem in a new way.

          MS: When you talked about the amount of data that remains classified, does that include data going back fifty, sixty, seventy years? Is radar data from, say, famous UFO events of the ‘50s – is that data preserved and is that classified, or is it possible to get access to it?

          RG: I don’t know if it exists. My inclination is that there’s probably a very large amount of data somewhere, but I don’t think that is a vault that has been tapped into, necessarily. I get the impression that the activities that have been going on in modern times seem to be standalone, in a sense – away from whatever may have been collected in the past.

          I’m not trying to make it sound overly nefarious – it could just be poor organization, it could be old Cold War distrust, it could be a bunch of things; but I still think there’s a pretty big disconnect between our historical understanding of this, and what’s been going on in modern times.

Although AARO [All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office] is tasked with running down the historical side of things, so we’ll see how that goes. 


          MS: What are your main personal outstanding questions about UAPs, and what do you foresee as a path to starting to explore those questions?

          RG: Gosh – I think the answer to your latter question is what I’ve already described to you, in a big sense. For me and the people that I engage with, we’re past the point of whether they’re there or not. A lot of us have either personally seen it, or have worked within government and have seen the data that’s just on the Classified side, now that we have more stringent reporting on this. 

          And so people are in. We are developing those questions that you just asked about: How can we better detect these objects? What frequencies should we expect them in? How can we take that information and pair that with existing technology that could be modified to allow the introduction of these modified sensors in an economical manner? How can we communicate that to the government, to let them know that those sensors exist and they have what we could call tri-use capability – for UAPs, for normal adversarial monitoring, and for commercial use?

          And taking these capabilities and not only communicating them, but building a subject-matter base that can understand these problems sets, and then go out and take that knowledge into the industry to help grow it.           And that’s what we’re seeing at the AIAA, within the Integration Outreach Committee, we’re seeing that as a technical basis of subject-matter expertise on this topic that’s growing. And we’re seeing the buddings of a new technology industry forming around that, where companies are looking in to say, “How can we help? Here’s what we have.”

          And to the second point, how can we continue to get answers and apply pressure to the apparatus of the government that doesn’t want to collaborate, that’s mainly being done through ASA, Americans for Safe Aerospace, to be able to provide our representatives in government with the tools and education they need to ask those good questions to those gatekeepers.

          To get to your first question, what do I want to answer – I want to answer, how do we detect these things? What’s the deal with them? How do we characterize them and see how we can best move this forward and provide future evaluation of the capabilities that are being displayed by them?

          And then we’re going to be taking the information we learn from those activities and not only promulgate it to industry, but using that to pump data into our other activities – which is what we call human factors. And that’s all about creating proper reporting procedures and recommendations, so that not only military pilots, but also commercial pilots, can report this without fear of reprimand from either their employers or from their commanding officer. So ASA is going to be focused on expanding the data sets, so we can ask better questions once we have a better handle on all the data that’s out there.


          MS: Could you speak broadly to the way that having encountered and come into proximity to this phenomenon has had such an impact, apparently, upon your entire life?

          RG: [Laughs] Yeah, apparently. People used to ask me if it did have an effect. And now, I guess, they’re not asking if it did and just saying, “Why?”

          When I saw the video in The New York Times [in 2017] and I realized this issue wasn’t resolving itselfit wasn’t a surprise, necessarily, because that’s just how the military operates: we learn our lessons in blood, after the fact.

          I was trained to be a Navy Aviation Safety Officer. I went to a six-week course for hands-on training, to investigate mishaps – not only investigate them, but try to prevent them, of course. And I had to perform that role with 2-Class-A, which was a total loss of aircraft, shortly afterward. So I was in the thick of it, with ejecting jets, and crashing into mountains, and going up there and picking the pieces up and trying to figure out what happened. There is no special team that flies in; someone like myself is specially trained to do that. And so that’s what I did, a number of times.

          I think when I saw that New York Times video, and I realized that this was lingering, this giant blind spot that not only was a massive safety issue – because we were almost hitting these things, and we weren’t addressing it, we had no reporting mechanism, we had no way to deal with it – but oh, by the way, we’re in fighter jets here, what we do is extremely important, and enemies want to spy on us. And to think we would have objects that potentially have that capability operating around us, and nobody, for lack of a better word, gave a shit – I realized that people continued to not care and it wasn’t going to get resolved. And that’s when I decided that I was going to speak out about it in some way, to try to preempt the problem before we just had someone slamming into one of these things.

          And that was the very pragmatic problem I was trying to solve: I don’t want one of the people that I’m still friends with, who are still flying, to hit one of these objects. I understand they don’t have the capacity to deal with this, much like I didn’t when I was there. I’m not saying I thought this clearly about it, but emotionally this is how I felt, when I’m describing it to you: I felt there was an obligation there, to some degree, to prevent this from happening before it happened. Which is a rarity in the military, like I said.

          But as the conversation grew, and the wider scope of the problem – if you can call it that – grew, my involvement in it grew as well. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics – they came to me, they asked me to present at one of their conferences, and then they asked me to help them stand up that group. There was a need that was apparent, and someone asked me to help them, and I said yes because there was no one else to do it. This topic scared a lot of people away, and left the playing field somewhat empty. But there were things that needed to be done.

          And over time, it became too much for me to do with a full-time job, essentially. And so I left what I was doing, and started engaging on this full-time. So there’s the AIAA. I saw a need, because a lot of pilots and aircrew have been reaching out to me, sharing their stories, but saying, “The mainstream media, I don’t trust them, I’ll lose my job if I go out there, I have nowhere to talk about it.” 

          And so I created a podcast, Merged, where I interview pilots and others who are in professional positions where they have information to share that’s relevant, because they’re either a trusted observer or highly technical, but they fear the social repercussions or professional repercussions of speaking out. Or they have a screenshot of them, with X-Files music playing behind them, on CNN, right?

          So I created the podcast so I can just have that conversation in the serious and respectful manner that it deserves, that people weren’t providing, and do it ideally from the lens of pilots. And I can have that professional conversation with them and ask them good questions around aviation, but not put them in a vulnerable position with their employers or anything like that. 

          It just seemed like there were needs that needed to get filled and no one was filling them. And I just got to a point where there were so many of them that I couldn’t do anything else. Americans for Safe Aerospace – that’s a non-profit that I recently started. The AIAA is a completely volunteer effort. And the podcast eats up a lot of time as well. So between all three of those, it’s taken on a life of its own, which has of course changed my trajectory in life.

          It’s a fascinating topic. And it’s one where I never would have imagined I would have got so much validation through the release of government documents over time – because a lot of the specifics of what I’ve said have been validated in various FOIA forms and pilot reports and things of that nature. And so it’s a conversation that just keeps growing, and there seem to be needs that need to get filled.


          MS: Is doing this podcast continuing to change how you see the topic? And how is your perspective changing?

          RG: Oh, absolutely – in a lot of cases, I’m learning along with the audience about this. 

          I have a pretty good grasp, I think, on the open-source, technical side, but what’s really been fascinating for me is to really explore the people that are willing to step forward and talk about this now, and highlight them as just regular people – not any UFO nuts, or some guy in a basement for the past 75 years studying it; it’s just normal people, some of them early in their careers. This is something that’s lively and people are passionate about in a way that I am learning about. That’s what I’m learning about: I didn’t realize how much innate passion there was for this topic, once we could get past that stigma, and that shame that came with it, for whatever reason.

fifth moon
go back
go forward

Interview I: The Whistleblower

1     2     3

bottom of page