Over the centuries, there have been many reported UFO sightings all over the world. After investigations, the supposed truth often came to light, while some continue to remain a mystery even today.
Briefly put, UFO – an abbreviation for Unidentified Flying Object, is any aerial object that can’t be identified immediately by the observer. While people often the term to refer to aliens or extraterrestrial life, it’s an umbrella term that also includes earthly objects (i.e., planes, balloons etc.).
Mankind has always had a kind of fascination with UFO reports, though understandably so because of its mysterious aspect and the possibility of aliens on Earth.
Here are 10 of the most famous UFO sightings in the world:
1. The Hill Abduction Case
When: September 19 to September 20, 1961
Where: New Hampshire, United States
Who spotted it: Barney and Betty Hill
What happened: An American couple, Barney and Betty Hill claimed that they were abducted by aliens.
Said to be the first widely public report of an alien abduction in the U.S., the couple asserted that the aliens that abducted them were from the Zeta Reticuli system.
According to the reports by the Hills, they allegedly saw a UFO on September 19 at around 10.30 pm. They were supposedly driving to Portsmouth. When they’re south of Lancaster, New Hampshire, they spotted a pancake-shaped UFO. Barney detailed seeing several uniformed humanoid figures in the craft and drove away in a frightened panic.
Subsequently, they heard a series of beeping sounds and their vehicle vibrated. They soon felt drowsy and heard another set of beeping sounds that returned them to full consciousness. When they reached home, they realised that they arrived 2 hours later than expected and there were missing gaps in their memories.
Through their dreams and hypnotism by psychiatrists, the Hills depicted the events that took place during their memory gaps. They recounted being escorted into the alien spacecraft where they were subjected to a full-body inspection separately. In Betty’s dreams, she recounted that the aliens’ skin was of a greyish colour, and appeared almost human-like.
This case was later portrayed and adapted into the movie “The UFO Incident” in 1975, and a novel titled “The Interrupted Journey” in 1966.
2. Roswell UFO Crash
Where: Roswell, New Mexico, United States
When: July 1947
Who spotted it: WW Brazel
What happened: Brazel had found debris of what was thought of as a UFO near his ranch in Roswell.
The Roswell incident is arguably one of the most famous reported UFO sightings. After Brazel found the debris, the local Sherrif contacted Air Force officer Major Jesse Marcel, and the military went to recover the remains. The local newspaper had also reported that a “flying saucer” had been found near the ranch. Afterwards, another news was released, and this time, the mysterious UFO was identified as a weather balloon.
Even so, a few decades later, a former nuclear physicist and UFO researcher, Stanton Friedman, was convinced that the weather balloon was an alien spacecraft, containing aliens’ bodies. This brought the Roswell incident back into the limelight.
However, the “flying saucer” was actually the U.S. Air Force’s surveillance balloon. In 1994, the U.S. Air Force issued a report saying that the wreckage was actually part of Project Mogul, a once-classified government project. The remains consisted of smashed parts of balloons, sensors and radar reflectors. Them stating that it was a weather balloon back then was a cover-up for the classified project.
3. USS Nimitz UFO incident
Where: The Pacific Ocean, southwest of San Diego, California
When: November 14, 2004
Who spotted it: The USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group pilots
What happened: The UFO sightings occurred during a routine training exercise off the coast of southern California, in which the pilots were tasked with investigating an unidentified radar spot.
Also known as the 2004 Tic Tac encounter, pilot Commander David Fravor and Lieutenant Commander Jim Slaight saw a large white “tic-tac” shaped object when they intercepted what seemed like a UFO. The claimed that the UFO had no windshield, no wing or tail, and there were no visible engines or exhaust plume.
Moreover, for the past several days, the USS Princeton’s radar had already been picking up the unidentified objects. Fravor further described the UFO as having rapid yet unpredictable and erratic movements. It had dipped from more than an altitude of 24,384 metres to around 8,534 metres or as low as 16 metres above the ocean surface in as little as 0.78 seconds.
There were many speculations as to what the UFO sightings were such as classified government technology, or that the radars have malfunctioned. The possibility of aliens was considered but often ruled out in favour of more realistic and earthly explanations.
In December 2017, an infrared footage of the encounter was released to the public by the Pentagon. The UFO sightings were thus brought to the public’s attention.
4. Mantell UFO incident
Where: Near Madisonville, Kentucky, United States
When: January 7, 1948
Who spotted it: Thomas F. Mantell and several other pilots
What happened: A Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell, who pursued a UFO, died when his aircraft crashed during the chase.
On that fateful day, the Godman Army Airfield at Kentucky received a report of an unidentified aerial object from the Kentucky Highway Patrol. They tasked Mantell, an experienced pilot, with pursuing and investigating the UFO Sightings.
Based on the testimonies of Sergeant Quinton Blackwell and two other witnesses, the UFO appeared to be white. It had a “red border at the bottom” and is “about one fourth the size of the full moon.”
However, during the chase with several other pilots, Mantell continued the steep climb up despite suggestions to level his altitude. When he passed 7,600 metres, he passed out from the lack of oxygen, causing his aircraft to spiral back downwards and he crashed, resulting in his death.
Investigations later on by the U.S. Air Force’s Project Blue Book suggested that the UFO sightings, or rather, what Mantell was chasing was a Skyhook balloon. The Skyhook balloon was still a secret project back in 1948 that Mantell wouldn’t have known about.
5. Gorman Dogfight
Where: Fargo, North Dakota, United States
When: October 1, 1948
Who spotted it: George F. Gorman
What happened: Gorman spotted a UFO when he was flying over Fargo at night.
This incident is one of the most widely public UFO sightings in the U.S., and it involved Gormon, a pilot of the North Dakota Air National Guard. While flying over Fargo at night, he noticed a blinking object in the sky that didn’t seem to have any outlines of a wing. There wasn’t supposed to be any other aircraft in the area other than his P-51 and a small Piper Club that he noticed beforehand.
When he went to pursue the mysterious object, he wasn’t able to catch up to it. This was because the UFO was able to outmanoeuvre him through speed and its constant vertical steep climb.
In 1949, the U.S. Air Force concluded that a lighted weather balloon caused this incident. They believed that the object’s movements were an illusion borne from the movements from Gorman’s aircraft. Furthermore, once the weather balloon passed, Gorman might have chased the planet Jupiter instead of what he thought was a UFO.
6. Belgian UFO Wave
Where is it: Belgium
When was it: November 29, 1989 to April 1990
Who spotted it: Around 30 different groups of witnesses and 3 separate groups of police officers.
What happened: The Belgian UFO wave was a series of triangular-shaped UFO sightings in the Belgium skies.
This wave of UFO sightings in Belgian started in November 1989 and soon, many similar reports of a triangular-shaped UFO surfaced. The reports stated that it was flying at low altitude, and some stated that the UFO had lights underneath.
In March 1990, two F-16 aircrafts from the Belgium Air Force investigated reports of UFO sightings and intercepted them. They were unable to see the alleged UFOs even though they obtained radar locks on them. However, the UFOs moved too fast for the pilots and they ended up losing them.
Interestingly, despite many UFO sightings, there were no video or photographic evidence of them. This resulted in an explanation that it could be a mass hallucination or a psycho-social phenomenon at play.
7. The Chiles-Whitted Sighting
Where: Montgomery, Alabama, United States
When: July 24, 1948
Who spotted it: Clarence S. Chiles and John B. Whitted
What happened: Two commercial pilots, Chiles and Whitted had allegedly seen a “glowing object” pass by their plane before it disappeared into the clouds.
It was in the early morning hours when Chiles and Whitted, flying an Eastern Airlines plane, saw a bright, glowing object. It had no wings and passed by the right side of their plane before it zoomed up and went into the clouds, propelled by the flames bursting from its rear. They then lost sight of it. They further described that the UFO had two rows of windows (upper and lower decks) and was around 30 metres in diameter. One awake passenger reported that they saw a bright object streaking past his window.
Studies by the U.S. Air Force and civilian researchers later showed that what Chiles and Whitted saw was a meteor. However, that also seemed strange as both pilots were sure that the object had moved out of their way and had climbed up.
8. The Valentich Disappearance
Where: Bass Strait, Australia
When: October 21, 1978
Who spotted it: Frederick Valentich
What happened: An Australian pilot, Valentich, disappeared while chasing a UFO when he was on a training flight over the Bass Strait.
This is one of the strangest UFO sightings reported in Australia. As no one knew what happened to Valentich when he went missing after chasing a UFO. There were many theories and speculations, but it remained a mystery even today.
That day, when Valentich was over Bass Strait flying a Cessna 182L, he reported that an unknown aircraft followed him. The Melbourne Air Flight Service that he radioed told him that there was no traffic near him. He insisted that he could see the large unknown aircraft near him and described it having 4 bright landing lights. Valentich added that the aircraft flew over him a few times, as if toying with him, and moved at high speeds.
He then experienced engine problems in his aircraft. Before his transmission was cut off, he said that the unknown object wasn’t an aircraft. The last sounds that came from the radio was a “metallic, scraping sound.”.
Valentich went missing and the Australian Department of Transport was unable to find anything regarding his disappearance. They presumed that he died in a fatal crash and closed the case. Five years later, authorities found what seemed like parts of his plane washed ashore on Flinders Island.
9. Robert Taylor Incident (Livingston Incident)
Where: Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland
When: November 9, 1979
Who spotted it: Robert Taylor
What happened: Taylor spotted a “flying dome” above a forest clearing around 400 metres away from his truck.
Scotland is a hotbed for UFO sightings and some of the more mystifying UFO sightings occurred in West Lothian. One such incident happened in Livingston. A forester, Robert Taylor, came across a large circular flying dome near Dechmont Law.
Taylor detailed that the UFO was “a dark metallic material with a rough texture like sandpaper” and had small propellers on its flange. He also claimed that there was a pungent odour resembling those of “burning brakes”. Taylor reported that two smaller spheres caught and dragged him towards the larger object before he blacked out.
Taylor later woke up and found that the strange objects were gone. He couldn’t start his truck, and thus, walked home. Taylor arrived home in tattered trousers, with grazes on his legs and chin.
He reported this incident to the police, and they filed it under criminal assault. This occurrence caught ufologists’ attention, although there are people who believed that this case could be a result of an epilepsy attack.
Besides this baffling incident, there have also been other UFO sightings in West Lothian, with reports of shining discs and strange lights seen in the skies.
10. Area 51
Where: Area 51, Nevada, United States
Who spotted it: Bob Lazar
What happened: Lazar claimed that the U.S. government was investigating a recovered UFO in Area 51.
Finally, when we talk about UFO sightings, there’s no way we can forget Area 51. Perhaps the most famous hotbed for UFO sightings, this remote area had spun conspiracy theories of the existence of aliens due to its secrecy.
In 1989, Lazar, who said he worked in Area 51 as a reverse-engineer, told TV station KLAS in an interview that the government tried to reverse-engine alien spacecrafts and technology. Furthermore, he stated that he found documents on Earth’s involvement with grey aliens from Zeta Reticuli.
However, his assertions was torn apart by many. Moreover, his claims of being an MIT graduate seemed to be made up. Even until today, he remains steadfast in his claims of UFO sightings in Area 51.