When you tune into C-SPAN, you're probably unlikely to see politicians and policymakers discussing UFOs, aliens and other extraterrestrial paranormal activity. However, that doesn't mean the official organs of state aren't just as interested in these mysterious entities as the rest of the public. In fact, they may be even more so.
Although to members of the public and enthusiasts, UFOs may just be a mystery to solve, to politicians and military officers they represent a potential threat to national security. Due to this, many states around the world have implemented their own in-depth investigations into the phenomenon. Some of them aren't quite ready to officially announce the existence of aliens just yet, however their findings are certainly interesting. Find out about some of the major UFO files below:
1. Flying Saucer Working Party - United Kingdom
The British became interested in UFOs soon after the Second World War. Hidden amongst the chaos of that conflict were strange reports of unidentified craft which would often tail or appear around military aircraft. Dubbed 'Foo Fighters' by pilots, the Royal Air Force and Ministry of Defence were eager to ascertain if these unidentified craft a) actually existed, b) were some kind of threat, and c) were extraterrestrial in origin.
The Flying Saucer Working Party (FSWP) was established in 1950 and consisted of five members, all of which were experts from technical branches of the Air Ministry, Admiralty, War Office and Ministry of Defence.
After spending eight months sifting through reports, they concluded the vast majority of sighting were benign in nature and could be attributed to common everyday occurrences. Those which could not be explained were likely optical illusions. Despite this, they also recommended to policymakers that all UFO sightings should be debunked, while those which cannot be explained should be kept from the public.
2. Project Magnet and Project Second Storey - Canada
Canada also set up its own task force dedicated to investigating claims of flying saucers. However, their reasoning for doing so was slightly different.
In 1950, Canadian Department of Transport radio engineer Wilbert B. Smith made an odd request to the government. He wanted to use state laboratories and equipment to discover the means by which UFOs flew. He was already adamant UFOs existed and were extraterrestrial in nature, in fact, he even thought he knew how they achieved flight. Smith believed UFOs used the Earth's magnetic field to enable a kind of geomagnetic propulsion that allowed them fly beyond the capabilities of conventional craft. The Canadian government agreed to his request and formally established Project Magnet. Smith would later say of UFOs:
They are a hundred feet or more in diameter; they can travel at speeds of several thousand miles per hour; they can reach altitudes well above those which should support conventional air craft or balloons; and ample power and force seem to be available for all required maneuvers . . . Taking these factors into account, it is difficult to reconcile this performance with the capabilities of our technology, and unless the technology of some terrestrial nation is much more advanced than is generally known, we are forced to the conclusion that the vehicles are probably extra-terrestrial, in spite of our prejudices to the contrary.
For the most part, Project Magnet consisted of using an Ontario observatory to measure magnetic and radio disturbances believed to be caused by UFOs. As you can imagine, little breakthrough was actually made, although Smith's, shall we say 'unusual,' theories were published after his death in his book, The New Science.
Coupled with Project Magnet was Project Second Storey. This more orthodox program was conducted by the Defence Research Board and operated on the basis there were simply too many UFO sightings for them to discounted as natural phenomenon or confused witnesses. Ultimately, the project was abandoned in 1954 due to governmental embarrassment over UFO publicity and the conclusion the phenomenon could not be adequately explained using scientific methods.
3. CEFAA - Chile
Many South American nations, including Peru, Uruguay and Brazil, have established their own UFO investigation projects, but few of them are as extensive or as open as Chile's Comite de Estudios de Fenomenos Aereos Anomalos (Committee for the Studies of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena).
Established in 1997 - notably more recently than other projects on this list - the CEFAA was created in the wake of media hysteria following the sighting of UFOs over Chacalluta Airport. Also unlike other committees on this list, the CEFAA is bound by 2008 Transparency Laws, which force government entities to report their findings in an open manner. Due to this, the CEFAA releases hard evidence - such as photos, physical evidence, videos and audio recordings - as well simple paper files.
For example, a recent incident investigated by the CEFAA involves a disc-shaped object seen hovering over the Collahuasi copper mine, located in the remote Andean region 4,300 meters (14,000 ft) above see level. Several photos were taken by technicians working at the mine, and thanks to the openness of the CEFAA you can see them below:
Ultimately, the CEFAA would state the object is neither a balloon, aircraft, bird or drone, and officially concluded it was unidentifiable.
Soon after this event, representatives from the CEFAA as well as Chilean air force and aviation authorities announced UFOs were unlikely to pose a threat to national security. The board announced:
If, as many witnesses have declared, the [UFO phenomena] demonstrates ‘intelligent behavior,’ and if we admit this fact, then we must look for ‘the intention behind’ that intelligence, whatever it may be—a form of energy, perhaps—it doesn’t matter. Intelligence is what matters. If this is so, we must ask: has it shown hostility or carried out openly threatening maneuvers? Has it actually attacked our aircraft? To date, this doesn’t seem to be the case. We cannot possibly call something a threat to something or someone if they have not shown any open intention to do harm. And even less, we do not even know their exact nature!
4. Setka MO and Setka AS - Soviet Union
Considering much of this UFO hysteria occurred during the Cold War, both the US and Soviet Union clearly took a lot of interest in the phenomenon. Often alien visitors were not at the forefront of their minds - a much more terrifying proposition was that their rival had developed some new kind of weapon or aircraft.
Although, the Soviets had been investigating UFOs in a haphazard way ever since the end of World War II, an event on the night of September 20, 1977 changed things. The inhabitants of Petrozavodsk witnessed a huge pulsating object in the night sky which witnessed described as looking like a 'red sun' or 'jellyfish.' The phenomenon hung in the air for around 10 minutes, leading to local military forces being mobilized. Following the event, letters swarmed the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences demanding to know what had occurred. Meanwhile neighboring countries, also requested to know if it was a weapons test.
It is now commonly held that the Soviet authorities knew exact what it was, as it was most likely an atmospheric after effect of the nearby launch of Soviet satellite Kosmos-955. However, instead of publicly stating this, the authorities established the Setka AN, a research program dedicated to anomalous atmospheric phenomena, including UFOs, and Setka MO, a military project along the same lines.
From the start, the program was extremely militaristic in nature, as Setka MO's official mission was the: "Research of paranormal atmospheric and space phenomena and their influence on the operation of military technical equipment and personnel." It was kept firmly under wraps, while confirmed sightings of paranormal UFO activity were expected to be analyzed for any military utility.
However, throughout their investigations, the Setka teams discovered most sightings were weather balloons or atmospheric illusions caused by weapon and rocket testing. They did, however, discovered balls of light would often appear in the sky when the Soviet military were conducting large movements of troops and material. The military and scientists would eventually come to the conclusion these were most likely American and Japanese reconnaissance equipment.
5. Project Sign, Project Grudge & Project Blue Book - United States
On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold arguably introduced the world to the concept of a UFO. He reported seeing a formation of colorful, crescent-shaped craft flying at speeds in excess of 1,200 knots. This event, plus the Roswell incident which would happen a month later, led to a huge spike in interest, and anxiety, about aliens and UFOs.
So, in late 1947, the Air Technical Intelligence Center at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base established Project Sign in order to develop an "Estimate of the Situation." It's results would be officially inconclusive, although it would conclude the sightings were not American experimental craft and were most likely extraterrestrial in origin. However, the report was not condoned by the Pentagon, who ordered the documents destroyed and the project disbanded.
However, in 1949, Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge, another USAF project which hoped to debunk as much of the UFO phenomenon as possible. To placate public fears in the wake of Roswell, Grudge reported that UFO activity was actually the result of conventional aircraft, weather balloons, meteors, optical illusions and other commonplace occurrences. The reports were widely supported by civilian academics and other military personnel.
Interestingly, the findings of Project Grudge did not entirely satisfy members of the establishment and in 1952 it was revitalized under the new name of Project Blue Book. Increasingly strange radar readings and a rise in Cold War tensions led some in the air force to become concerned UFOs represented an asymmetry in technical ability between the US and USSR. Despite investigating 12,618 sightings, the report concluded UFO activity did not suggest advanced technology, extraterrestrial origins or a national security threat.
Despite this conclusion, not all the cases investigated by Project Blue Book were open and shut jobs. Around 700 cases were deemed to be unexplainable, with one of the most famous involving a New Mexico police officer in 1964. He claimed to have come across a craft, and its "child-like beings" while on a police pursuit in a rural area. Upon arriving at the site, investigators claimed to have found scorch marks and other physical evidence at the 'landing site.'