top of page

UFO Events Since 1938
p. 3 of 3

          1990 January: While visiting New York, Harvard psychiatrist John Mack is introduced to abduction researcher Budd Hopkins. Mack is fascinated with the hypnosis sessions Hopkins conducts with subjects, by which Hopkins purportedly retrieves repressed memories of alien encounters. Back in Boston, Mack begins taking on clients who believe they are abductees, to study the phenomenon independently.

          1990 March 30: Two F-16s belonging to the Belgian Air Force engage a UFO in aerial cat-and-mouse; the object’s presence is separately confirmed on radar.

          1991 November 12: Keith Thompson’s Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination is published. Thompson gives a broad overview of UFO sightings and debates since 1947, and argues that UFOs are both real and imaginary — ontologically un-pin-downable. He predicts that the debate over the reality of UFOs will not be decisively settled.

          1992 March 19: A young police officer in Haines City, Florida, is on his early-morning patrol, when a domed UFO flies over his car, flooding the interior with green light and stalling the engine. The officer gets out and watches the UFO, which is fifteen feet wide, as it floats some ten feet off the ground. After fifteen minutes, it speeds away. The car’s power returns.

          1993 March 30: UFOs are sighted across the United Kingdom. A black triangle is seen over Royal Air Force Cosford and Royal Air Force Shawbury, and is reported to “[shoot] off to the horizon several times faster than an RAF fighter jet.”

          1993 September 10: The X-Files begins airing on Fox.

          See Interview III: The Storyteller.

          1994 April 17: John Mack’s Abduction is published. The Harvard psychiatrist and Pulitzer-winning biographer throws his credibility behind the position that the abduction phenomenon is actually happening. But unlike Budd Hopkins, who introduced Mack to the practice of hypnotizing alleged experiencers, Mack is not certain that aliens are physically present; he entertains the idea that abductions may be both objectively occurring and somehow mentally contingent.

          The science-fiction novelist Rudy Rucker reviews Abduction in The Washington Post and calls it “irresponsible, dangerous claptrap.” Mack is ridiculed to his own face by an Australian TV reporter, and faces an internal investigation by Harvard Medical School, but is not formally penalized or reprimanded.

          1994 June 16: At The Ariel School, in Ruwa, Zimbabwe, students go outside for their morning recess, while adults remain indoors for a meeting. Afterwards, 62 students, ages six to twelve, all report a UFO descending from the sky and landing in a field (some students report two craft landing), and aliens emerging from it. Some younger children run away, but older children are curious and stay. According to the students, the aliens communicate with them telepathically, exhorting them to a consciousness of humans’ impact on the planet’s environment.

          The children are later interviewed by two TV reporters, and separately by John Mack. Today, some continue to allege that the children coordinated or were coached on their story, but no actual evidence for this theory has ever emerged, and those who were there continue to say it all happened as reported. However, some argue that Mack prompted the children to add to their recounting an environmental message that was not first present in their claim. 

Child's drawing from Ariel School Incident

          1995: Robert Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, begins holding secret meetings on UFOs, with Nevada Senator Harry Reid in attendance.


          1995 February 17: Hard Copy airs apparently real footage of a UFO – or an unknown black-budget craft – hovering and zipping about, over Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.

          Area 51 is an installation at Nellis.

          1996 July 2: Independence Day opens, and quickly sets multiple

box-office records.

          1997 March 13: Thousands in Phoenix and Tucson witness a triangle- or V-shaped object overhead; the sightings span locations across Arizona for three hours. Today, the event is widely posited to have been a military exercise, with multiple planes in formation appearing to have formed a single object. At the time, however, neither then-Gov. Symington

(a witness) nor then-Sen. McCain was able to obtain an explanation of the incident from any state or national military branch.

          1999 July: France’s COMETA, an association including Generals, scientists and pilots, releases a report entitled, “UFOs and Defense: What Should We Prepare For?” In its conclusion, the report endorses the extraterrestrial hypothesis, in part stating, “These studies… demonstrate the almost certain physical reality of completely unknown flying objects with remarkable flight performances and noiselessness, apparently operated by intelligent beings. With their maneuvers, these objects considerably impress civilian and military pilots, who hesitate to speak about them. The fear of appearing ridiculous, alienated, or simply gullible is the principal reason for this reserve. Secret craft definitely of earthly origins (drones, stealth aircraft, etc.) can only explain a minority of cases. If we go back far enough in time, we clearly perceive the limits of this explanation.”


          2000 December 4: The United Kingdom’s Project Condign, a UFO study panel set up by the Defence Intelligence Staff in 1997, concludes that the objects exist but pose no threat, and may be naturally occurring “buoyant plasma formations.”

          The title of the report, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region,” marks an early appearance of the new descriptor, whose acronymic form, “UAP,” is now considered more linguistically current than the term “UFO.”

          2001 May: Popular Mechanics runs a piece entitled, “When UFOs Land: At long last, scientists have their hands on the proof skeptics say doesn’t exist– physical evidence of flying saucers.”

          Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch is quoted, “Ask most scientists what they think of the UFO enigma and you will almost certainly get a scoff and a brushoff like, ‘There’s not one shred of evidence.’ That answer is simply not true. The problem is that this evidence does not follow our expected scientific logic, and so scientists dismiss what is, in fact, a huge number of accounts. Many sighting reports, as absurd as they sometimes appear, are probably real.”


          2002 October 16: The date given on a document popularly known as “The Wilson Memo,” comprising fifteen pages of notes by Eric W. Davis, a physicist on faculty at Baylor University and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin. The notes are widely believed to be authentic, which does not prove that the claims relayed in them are true.

          The notes transcribe a secret meeting allegedly held between Davis and Admiral Thomas Wilson, then the Deputy Director (later Director) of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Wilson tells Davis how he became

aware of a top-secret program that should have fallen under his regulatory authority and purview. The hidden program, which had once nearly been exposed by an audit, is run by a technology contractor, with virtually no government involvement, and for decades has purportedly been engaged in slow and arduous efforts to reverse-engineer a recovered alien craftWilson describes his indignation when corporate gatekeepers refuse to let him come any nearer to the “core secret” of their program – to witness thealien hardwarehimself. The watchguards’ refusal is later seconded by a Pentagon office to which Wilson complains.

          A reader of the notes infers that the contractor is likely Lockheed Martin; the scenario sketched confirms the basic Roswell narrative. However, since the notes became public, Wilson has denied ever having met with Davis – and if they did meet, Wilson could have been conveying disinformation.

From The Wilson Memo: an alleged exchange between Admiral Wilson and Eric Davis

          2004 November 14: One hundred miles off the coast of San Diego, two Navy pilots in F/A-18F Super Hornets receive instructions from the USS Princeton to intercept an object – one of many – that has been appearing on the cruiser’s radar system, after the object appears to plummet from an altitude of 80,000 feet to 20,000 in a vanishingly short instant. The pilots converge on the coordinates they’ve been given and find nothing – until they look down. They see the object hovering near sea level, causing the water under it to churn. Commander David Fravor will later describe the object he sees as white, 40 feet long, and tic tac-shaped. Commander Fravor flies down to the craft, which engages him alertly, mirroring his movements, and then flies away – accelerating instantaneously.

          Fravor and his fellow fliers are given instructions to proceed to their “cap point” – a designated rendez-vous, 60 miles from their location. When they are still 40 miles off, their radio operator advises that the tic tac has appeared at the cap point. But by the time the pilots get there, it is gone.


          2006 November 7: Twelve airline employees and several passengers in transit spot a gray flying saucer silently hovering above a gate at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. After several minutes (one witness later claims) the UFO zooms upward into the clouds. However, the object’s presence is not confirmed on radar, and the Federal Aviation Agency declines to investigate. 

          Indeed, the F.A.A. denies any knowledge of the incident, until a Freedom of Information Act request reveals a call the agency received from an airline supervisor during the sighting. The F.A.A. eventually says the sighting was the result of a weather phenomenon, possibly a “hole-punch cloud,” but a witness objects that what was seen was “obviously

not clouds.”

          2007: Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Ted Stevens (R-AK) decide to earmark $22 million of the defense budget for a secret UFO study program. (Stevens tells his colleagues that he saw foo fighters while flying in WWII). The funding goes into effect without the rest of the Senate’s knowledge. Inside the Pentagon, the new program will be called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Its Director, Luis Elizondo, will later leave government and undertake to change public views about UFOs.

          2010 September 27: Robert Hastings, who has spent decades researching reports of UFOs appearing at nuclear sites, holds a press conference on the topic at the National Press Club in Washington. Seven Air Force veterans speak out about air-base sightings.

          2011 August 2: Leslie Kean’s UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record is published.


          2013 June 27: A Navy jet crew files a report on a near-collision between a pilot and “what looked like a flying sphere encasing a cube(The New York Times, “Navy Reports Describe Encounters With Unexplained Flying Objects,2020 May 14).

          See Interview I: The Whistleblower.

          2017 December 16: The New York Times runs the articlesGlowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Programand “2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’,” both by Helene Cooper, Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal. The first article (better known than Politico‘s report on the same subject, published the same day) breaks the news that Navy pilots encounter UFOs, which are independently detected on radar; and that a Harry Reid-sponsored program inside the Pentagon has been studying the encounters. It also begins an American rebranding of UFOs as UAPs (for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) and is accompanied, online, by three videos: Navy footage of actual UAPs. (See Interview I: The Whistleblower for a discussion of the “Gimbal video).

          The second article is the first public recounting of Commander David Fravor’s 2004 encounter with the object he compared to a tic tac (see 2004 November 14).

          2019 February 1: Diana Walsh Pasulka’s American Cosmic is published, advancing both the narrative that a saucer crash in New Mexico really did once occur, and the narrative that UFOs are being studied inside NASA, the military, and intelligence agencies.

          See Interview II: The Scholar.

          2019 April 24: Politico reports that the U.S. Navy is updating its guidelines for pilots to report their encounters with “unknown aircraft.”


          2019 September 28: A ferry passenger films a cluster of orange orbs hanging above the ocean, off of North Carolina’s Outer Banks; the video is posted to YouTube and is reported in The Charlotte Observer on October 4

          Reports of flying orange orbs have since been coming out of North and South Carolina regularly.

Orange orbs, off the Carolina coast

          2020 April 27: The Department of Defense officially declassifies and acknowledges as authentic the three UAP videos that initially ran with The New York Times report of December 16, 2017.

The so-called "Gimbal" UFO, first seen in military footage distributed by The New York Tim

          2020 May 14: The New York Times reports on numerous near-collisions between Navy pilots and small, drone-like UFOs, off the east coast, between 2013 and 2019. (The piece follows up on an earlier    articlepublished 2019 May 26). The report emphasizes that the craft may not be made by aliens, but is equally clear that pilots have been seeing them near-constantly and that the Navy appears confounded.

          See Interview I: The Whistleblower.

          2020 July 27: Scientific American runs an opinion piece entitled, “‘Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, Better Known as UFOs, Deserve Scientific Attention. | UAPs are a scientifically interesting problem. Interdisciplinary teams of scientists should study them”.

          2020 August 14: The U.S. Department of Defense announces the formation (under the Navy) of a new UAP Task Force.

          2021 October 19: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson (an astronaut and former Senator) publicly speculates that UAP may be of alien origin.

          2021 December 15: Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, a provision of which mandates the establishment of new Defense programs to study UAPs.

          2022 May 17: Congress holds public hearings on UAPs, with high-level military officials publicly stressing the situation’s ambiguity and the limitedness of available information.

Footage from the 2022 UAP Congressional Hearing

          2022 June 9: NASA announces a new UAP study team.

          2023 April 14: Media outlets report that Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb and Pentagon official Sean Kirkpatrick have co-written a paper hypothesizing that UAPs are “probes” sent into our environment from a “parent craft.”

Cattle mutilation makes a reappearance: The New York Times, April 2023

          2023 April 22: The New York Times runs a piece with the headline, “Six Cattle Found Dead in Texas with Their Tongues Missing.The circumstances of the cattle mutilation match those of earlier such incidents: some body parts have been incised cleanly and precisely, but much has been left untouched; no trace of struggle can be found anywhere in the vicinity; no tire tracks, foot prints, or crushed growth suggest a killer’s presence. A sheriff is quoted as saying that scavengers have refused to touch the carcasses for weeks. The article refers to the past association of cattle mutilation with theories about UFOs. (See 1954 September 10 and 1967 September 7).


go back
go forward

UFO Events Since 1938

1     2     3

Reid Inouye Stevens
2017 December 16
DoD Video Declassification
2023 April 22
bottom of page