Flying objects and shrunken heads: World UFO Day feted amid surge in sightings, government denials

NORFOLK, Va. — For those of you who don’t celebrate World UFO Day, consider this:

A former U.S. Air Force intelligence officer told Congress last summer about a government program that retrieves and reverse engineers unidentified flying objects.

The Mexican Congress held an unprecedented session in September during which supposed mummies were presented as “nonhuman beings that are not part of our terrestrial evolution.”

And NASA now has a director of research for unidentified flying objects, or what it calls “unidentified anomalous phenomena.”

Never mind that the Pentagon denied the former intelligence officer’s claims; that Mexican researchers said the mummies “made no sense;” and that a NASA study found no evidence of extraterrestrials.

There’s still never been a better time to mark World UFO Day.

A look at the history of World UFO Day:

World UFO Day has its roots in the so-called Roswell Incident on July 2, 1947. On that date, something crashed at what was then the J.B. Foster ranch in New Mexico. There were reports that the U.S. military had recovered a “flying disc.” But officials later said the debris was merely the remnants of a high-altitude weather balloon.

The Air Force investigated the incident in 1994 amid charges that it was covering up the truth. It concluded that the supposed alien spacecraft was likely a secret Army Air Force balloon designed to monitor Soviet nuclear testing.

The material found near Roswell consisted of foil-wrapped fabric, wooden sticks, rubber pieces, and small I-beams with strange markings on them. A local newspaper headline described the find dramatically and unequivocally: Air Force Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch.

“The Air Force research did not locate or develop any information that the ‘Roswell Incident’ was a UFO event,” wrote Col. Richard Weaver, author of the report.

The Air Force released another report addressing UFO claims in 1997, stating that alleged alien bodies found near Roswell were just dummies used in parachute tests.

Some UFO researchers pushed back against that explanation, noting that such dummies weren’t used until 10 years after the Roswell Incident. And they said it would be a stretch for people who claimed to see alien bodies to mix up their dates so badly.

The life-size dummies were used in high-altitude parachute drops from 1954 to 1959. The majority landed outside the confines of military bases in eastern New Mexico, near Roswell, according to the Air Force report.

The dummies had a skeleton of aluminum or steel, skin of latex or plastic, a cast aluminum skull, and an instrument cavity in the torso and head.

The Air Force said the existence of such dummies was not widely known outside of scientific circles and “easily could have been mistaken for something they were not.’’

In 2022, Congress held its first hearing on UFOs in half a century as the Pentagon investigated hundreds of unexplained sightings in the sky.

The spotted objects appeared to be aircraft flying without any discernible means of propulsion. They have been reported near military bases and coastlines, raising the prospect that what witnesses actually spotted was secret Chinese or Russian technology.

A 2021 government report reviewed 144 sightings of aircraft or other devices that were apparently flying at mysterious speeds or trajectories. It found no extraterrestrial links but drew few other conclusions and called for better data collection.

Lawmakers from both parties have said the UFOs are a national security concern. But the sightings are usually fleeting. Some appear for no more than an instant on camera — and then sometimes end up distorted by the camera lens.

Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said during a 2022 hearing that the Pentagon was trying to destigmatize the issue and encourage pilots and other military personnel to report anything unusual they see.

Then things got a little strange last year.

During a congressional hearing in late July, retired Air Force Maj. David Grusch testified that the U.S. is concealing a longstanding program that retrieves and reverse engineers unidentified flying objects.

Asked whether the U.S. government had information about extraterrestrial life, Grusch said the U.S. likely has been aware of “nonhuman” activity since the 1930s.

The Pentagon denied Grusch’s claims of a cover-up and denied the existence of any such program.

Unlike the hearings in the U.S., the testimony before lawmakers in the Mexican Congress included alleged evidence of aliens.

During an unprecedented session in September, Mexican journalist José Jaime Maussan presented two boxes containing shriveled bodies with shrunken, warped heads — supposed mummies found in Peru.

“It’s the queen of all evidence,” Maussan claimed. “That is, if the DNA is showing us that they are nonhuman beings and that there is nothing that looks like this in the world, we should take it as such.”

The apparently desiccated bodies date back to 2017 and were found deep underground in the sandy Peruvian coastal desert of Nazca. Most attribute the famous Nazca Lines to ancient Indigenous communities.

Julieta Fierro, researcher at the Institute of Astronomy at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, was among those to express skepticism, saying that many details about the figures “made no sense.”

She noted that scientists would need more advanced technology than the X-rays they claimed to use to determine if the allegedly calcified bodies were “nonhuman”.

At another hearing in November, Maussan made the case again, citing a “nonhuman” that did not have lungs or ribs.

The Pentagon released a study in March that had examined the many UFO sightings over nearly the past century and found no evidence of aliens or extraterrestrial intelligence.

The report analyzed U.S. government investigations since 1945. It also found no evidence that the U.S. or private companies had reverse-engineered extraterrestrial technology.

The Pentagon’s report arrived about six months after NASA released a report on UFOs, which also found no evidence of extraterrestrials.

But NASA Administrator Bill Nelson did acknowledge that another Earth-like planet could exist within the billions of galaxies in the universe.

“If you ask me, do I believe there’s life in a universe that is so vast that it’s hard for me to comprehend how big it is? My personal answer is yes,” Nelson said at a news conference.

When pressed by reporters on whether the U.S. or other governments are hiding aliens or otherworldly spaceships, Nelson said: “Show me the evidence.”

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