The truth about Jimmy Carter's UFO sighting

You just don't get as many perceived pillars of the community filing reports of UFO sightings as you used to. Who knows what changed? Maybe the Men in Black finally perfected neurolizers. Maybe nobody wants to be seen as Randy Quaid's Independence Day character. Maybe we got better at prescribing eyeglasses.

Still, at least we can remember the good times, back when claims of close encounters came from the likes of John Lennon and, per Den of Geek, KISS's own Ace Frehley.

And if that's not a prestigious enough pedigree of celebrity for you, you'll be thrilled to learn that these United States were, for four revolutions around the sun, overseen by a man who claimed to have spotted a flying saucer in Calhoun County, Georgia.

The claim, detailed in a remarkably official looking report to the International UFO Bureau in Oklahoma, was made by one James Earl Carter Jr., better known as President Jimmy Carter. It is, appropriately, pretty nuts.

Jimmy Carter versus the moon men

According to the report, filled out manually by Carter himself, it was October of 1969 — later digging would point to January of the same year as more likely, but we're not here to question the 39th leader of the free world. In any case, it was two years before Carter was elected governor of Georgia, and he was gearing up for a speech.

Asked about the incident by GQ in 2005, Carter stated "I saw an object one night when I was preparing to give a speech to a Lions Club. There were about twenty five of us men standing around (...) And all of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west!' And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it." He went on to describe the light approaching the group, changing colors several times, and then flying off into the distance.

President Carter went on to state that he "never thought that (the object) was from outer space," but also promised to bring transparency to the U.S. government's dealings with UFO reports if elected president. He walked that promise back when he took office, with History reporting that he had concerns relating to "defense implications."

As for the object that Carter saw, it has since been classified as "a high altitude barium release cloud launched from Eglen AFB," which sounds legit.