Here's What You Should Do If You See A UFO

So just to be clear, UFO does not stand for "Vulcans Making First Contact," not even on Vulcan. It stands for Unidentified Flying Object, a term coined back in the 1950s, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, first used by pilot and author Donald Keyhoe. UFO took the place of "flying saucers," a description which appeared in 1947 with a report by another pilot, Kenneth Arnold, who said he saw nine "saucer-shaped objects" flying near Mount Rainier in Washington State. The term is also claimed by Edward Ruppelt, an Air Force officer also writing in the 1950s. An object, flying, that isn't (or can't be) identified: UFO.

Some trace other 1947 UFO evidence to Roswell, New Mexico (of course), and the wreckage discovered there by rancher W.W. Brazel near an Army airfield, as History tells us. There was more debris/evidence sighted later in New Mexico. An Air Force investigation titled Project Sign led to Project Grudge, in turn succeeded by Project Blue Book, 1952-69, the official inquiry into unexplained/unidentified/what-the-heck-is-that? phenomena. That effort concluded that of the 12,000 UFO events, about 6 percent couldn't be explained — hence, truly objects moving through the air of an unidentified nature.

We don't really call them flying saucers anymore

That leaves a window of about 720 "maybe/shrug" in the report. There exists the possibility that you, too, might be blessed (or cursed, depending) with encountering an object, moving through the air, that doesn't seem to make sense — too fast (or too slow), too erratic, too — something. What to do?

First off, it wouldn't hurt to have some basis for comparison. Fortunately for all of us, the U.S. Navy released UFO videos — three of them, as Forbes relates — but truly, it's a leap from "what is that?" to "Can you make the live-long-and-prosper sign?" By definition, it's "unidentified," which absolutely nowhere equates with "intelligent life that's not from around these here parts."

Nevertheless, there's that window that you might see something moving through the sky that doesn't make sense. Assuming no recreational chemistry is involved, SFGate suggests a few helpful strategies, which in turn come from MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, which tracks incidents and conducts research and is quite sure Earthlings are not alone in the universe.

Try to record the event. Getting a call-back number wouldn't hurt

They suggest some interesting numbers: 70,000 UFO reports globally, annually; 90 percent are explainable; but only one in 10 sightings gets reported. That's a lot of unidentification.

So if it happens: Be calm. (Nothing about "Don't panic, and always carry a towel," which is disappointing.) Be objective. Try to record the event in some way — phones are nifty devices for audio and video captures in the moment. If you're with someone, ask them to do the same thing, but don't discuss it — yet. Are there trace elements of the visit? (Did they empty their waste baskets and leave?) Leave it for the experts. Are there actual creatures? Be ready to run. (Well, "take evasive action," but surely running counts.)

And report. There are plenty of organizations out there around the world (our world, that is) that welcome and encourage reports of sightings that truly involve objects that are not unidentified (MUFON, above, is one). Hardly any of them will make fun of you. Really.