Along with detailed descriptions of first-hand encounters with spherical and Tic Tac-shaped objects, witnesses alluded to government intimidation that made them fear for their lives
A US congressional panel has heard testimony from former military servicemen that the American military may know far more about unknown objects spotted in the sky than has previously been disclosed.
The hearing on so-called Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, or UAPs – a term coined partly to avoid the stigma of “UFO” – featured several witnesses from military career backgrounds sharing stunning testimony about alleged secret military programmes, as well as personal encounters with unknown objects that appeared to defy known physics and engineering principles while flying in US airspace.
One witness was David Charles Grusch, a former US Air Force intelligence officer and whistleblower who recently went public with claims that the American military may be attempting to reverse-engineer recovered craft of no known earthly origin.
Another, retired US Navy Commander David Fravor, gave a detailed account of an encounter he and other pilots had with a UAP over the Persian Gulf in 2004.
“As we looked around, we noticed some white water off our right side. The weather on the day of the incident was as close to a perfect day as you could ask, clear skies, light winds, calm seas (no whitecaps from the waves) so the white water stood out in the large blue ocean. As all four looked down we saw a small white Tic Tac shaped object…
“As we pulled nose onto the object at approximately ½ of a mile with the object just left of our nose, it rapidly accelerated and disappeared right in front of our aircraft. Our wingman, roughly 8,000ft above us, also lost visual. We immediately turned to investigate the white water only to find that it was also gone.
The object, he said, “was far superior in performance to my brand new F/A-18F, and did not operate with any of the known aerodynamic principles that we expect for objects that fly in our atmosphere.”
Out in the open
There is significant political pressure by US lawmakers to investigate the UAP issue in detail while keeping the debate on it as rational as possible. In that spirit, some of the panel’s members sought to frame the hearing as an exposé of possible extraterrestrial visits to Earth, but an inquiry into a possible cover-up.
“We’re not bringing little green men or flying saucers into the hearing,” said Congressman Tim Burchett. “Sorry to disappoint half of y’all.”
Yet other members emphasised that part of the point of the hearing was, in fact, to understand the meaning of the hundreds or thousands of sightings apparently made by military staff and commercial pilots.
In her own opening remarks, during which she mentioned the infamous Roswell incident, Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna remarked that Congress needs to understand “the magnitude of what this means not just for this nation, but for humanity”.
Thanks to a sporadic sequence of news reports and official disclosures in recent years, beginning with a stunning New York Times story in 2017, there is a greater public understanding than ever about what steps the US has been quietly taking to investigate UAPs, in particular those spotted by military servicemembers.
Millions of dollars of funds quietly allocated by the US Senate are known to have been spent on probing the matter, including via the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force established in 2020, and its successor, the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, for which Grusch worked.
News reports, declassified videos and Congressional testimony have made clear that there have been many more encounters than the public has been made aware of, and that there are striking consistencies across the witness accounts that have been gathered.
And even among those who remain steadfastly sceptical of any suggestion that extraterrestrial aviators are visiting Earth, the string of still-partial revelations has raised serious alarm that advanced technology of some kind might be being used in proximity to American military assets – and that if so, it is not clear who has developed and deployed it.
Wednesday’s hearing, however, marks a new turn in the public story.
Fear and danger
Both Grusch and Fravor specifically alluded to the US government’s possible awareness or even possession of craft originating beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
Grusch’s most striking testimony was indirect, in that he did not claim to have first-hand knowledge of the supposed objects in question. Instead, he testified that in 2019, he was “informed” of “a multi-decade UAP crash retrieval and reverse engineering program” that was or is operating without Congressional scrutiny.
“I made the decision based on the data I collected, to report this information to my superiors and multiple Inspectors General, and in effect become a whistleblower,” he told the subcommittee.
“As you know, I have suffered retaliation for my decision. But I am hopeful that my actions will ultimately lead to a positive outcome of increased transparency.”
Fravor also voiced concern about the lack of government scrutiny of the reported incidents and the military’s knowledge of them.
“What concerns me is that there is no ‘oversight’ from our elected officials on anything associated with our government possessing or working on craft that we believe are not from this world,” he said in his remarks.
He also reiterated to the committee that the object he and other pilots saw in the Persian Gulf in 2004 was able to perform seemingly impossible manoeuvres that would outpace any US military assert.
“The technology that we faced was far superior than any we had, and you could put that anywhere…it could go someplace, drop down in a matter of seconds, do whatever it wants and leave, and there’s nothing we could do about it.”
Crucially, Grusch and Fravor both stressed that the objects they discussed were not only spotted by pilots visually, but also detected on radar, though that data has not been released.
The strongest running theme of the hearing, however, was that there is currently almost no way for pilots and military personnel to report sightings without attracting the stigma associated with UFO conspiracy theorists – or far darker consequences.
Grusch, for one, confirmed to Luna that he had at times feared for his life since coming forward.
There is also no reporting system at all for civilian aviation pilots. Another witness, former F-18 pilot Ryan Graves, explained that he had helped found the group Americans for Safe Aerospace to support those who had had UAP encounters, and that he had not anticipated how many witnesses would contact him.
The group, he says, has “become a haven for more than 30 UAP witnesses who were previously unspoken due to the absence of a safe intake process. Most do not want to speak publicly. They are afraid of professional consequences. They just want to add their account to the data set.”
Tellingly, the Republican-led subcommittee session featured some of the House of Representatives’ most hardcore right-wing members – Florida’s Matt Gaetz, for instance – along with left-wing figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
That is testament to the fact that the issue of UAPs cuts across party lines like few other topics at a time when Washington, and the House of Representatives in particular, is viciously divided.
As Congressman Jared Moskowitz said in his opening remarks, “it shouldn’t take the possibility of non-human origin to bring us together”.