U.S. Navy confirms UFO videos

To believe or not to believe? That is the question when it comes to alien civilizations. Only you can decide which is nobler in the mind, but in 1950, the Nobel Prize-winning mind of physicist Enrico Fermi responded to that question with another question: "Where are they?" If intelligent extraterrestrials exist, why haven't they reached out to Earth? Depending on whom you ask, the answer is that they already have, as demonstrated by thousands upon thousands of UFO sightings dating back to the 1940s. 

In September 2019, humans received another reason to believe or not to believe. As reported by NBC and other outlets, the U.S. Navy confirmed footage of "unidentified aerial phenomena," or UAPs. Three videos — one from 2004 and two from 2015 — were published in 2017 and 2018 by the group To The Stars Academy of Arts & Sciences, a UFO research group as well as the New York Times. The clips feature "oblong" (one might even say "saucer-shaped") objects detected by infrared sensors. Here's what we know.

What the Navy UFO videos show

In the 2004 footage, an object shifts quickly in the air before zipping entirely out of view. In a 2015 clip, pilots find themselves at a loss for a clear explanation. One remarks, "It's a f*cking drone, bro." But that's quickly disproven as the bizarre object travels against the wind. Another clip captures crews asking, "What the f*ck is that?" 

The Navy seems to have gone out of its way to use the UAP label instead of the loaded "UFO" term, which many people use for "alien spacecraft." Navy spokesperson Joe Gradisher told CNN that these sightings occur frequently. However, "for many years, our aviators didn't report these incursions because of the stigma attached to previous terminology and theories about what may or may not be in those videos." Or maybe in the Navy, "UFO" stands for "Unidentified [Effing] Object," which could explain the potty language in those videos.

Whatever these UFOs are, there are apparently a lot of them. And for all we know, they might be the same sorts of oblong UFOs people have claimed to see for decades. The first of these aerial anomalies was reported in 1947 when pilot and businessman Kenneth Arnold described seeing "a formation of flying saucers near Mount Rainier in Washington," according to Newsweek. The U.S. military immediately dismissed Arnold's claims, but that same year a farmer in Roswell, New Mexico, found bizarre debris among his sheep. As History detailed, people thought the debris once belonged to a flying saucer. The Air Force identified it as a downed weather balloon, but a series of dummy drops during the 1950s led residents to believe that only a dummy would buy the official story. The dummies were eerily alien-like — at least in terms of the pop culture association — possessing a latex exterior and "aluminium bones." The military later provided a more down-to-earth explanation of these weird sky droppings, calling them a part of an atomic espionage project for World War II.

This isn't the first time the military has reported UFOs

Another striking UFO sighting occurred during the Korean War, when at least 42 U.S. soldiers witnessed a flashing, jack-o-lantern-like craft fly down a mountainside. The craft was supposedly impervious to bullets and bombs and emitted light waves that caused a "burning, tingling sensation," according to History. Three days later, the entire company fell ill. Some have suggested aliens made a cameo appearance to observe human combat, while others theorized that the Soviets built a death ray. Another possibility is a mass, stress-induced hallucination.

While some of these frightening sightings might have plausible, non-alien-based explanations, others have remained shrouded in uncertainty for more than half a century. Per the National Archives, between 1947 and 1969 the U.S. Air Force investigated 12,618 UFO reports as part of Project Blue Book, the program tasked with identifying unidentified objects. When the military closed the book on its 22-year undertaking, 701 objects remained unidentified.

Does any of this prove that extraterrestrial life forms exist? No, and as Live Science points out, even the term "UFO" technically just refers to any flying object that whoever saw it can't identify. If some government on Earth secretly created a flying spaghetti monster and you unwittingly spotted it flying through the sky on a saucer, dripping sauce and dropping meatballs, it might count as a UFO, but that wouldn't make it a space alien. But who can say for sure? Perhaps Hamlet said it best: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."