While UFOs have been around for decades, recently they have started playing by different rules.
Unidentified flying objects, also called unidentified aerial phenomena or flying saucers, have made a lasting impact on popular culture. Often, talk about them has connotations of extraterrestrial life. Strictly speaking, a UFO is just what the name says it is: an unidentified flying object. The idea of UFOs entered the common consciousness after the invention of rockets following WWII. Since the earliest days of UFO sightings, people have always speculated whether alien life is behind their appearances. The first well-recorded UFO sighting was in 1947. Kenneth Arnold, an aviation hobbyist, witnessed nine high-speed flying objects while he was on a joyride in the mountains of Washington state. He accidentally coined the term flying saucers after he said the objects moved “like saucers skipping on water” and the press misinterpreted his words. Arnold’s sighting catalyzed the world’s interest in UFOs, which perhaps peaked in the eighties but is still far from dying out.
Lately, UFOs have begun to play by different rules. John Ratcliffe, the former director of national intelligence, said in a Popular Mechanics article that a recent UFO broke the sound barrier without creating a sonic boom. A sonic boom occurs when an aircraft flies faster than the speed of sound in the air and causes a sudden change in pressure. Scientists have never observed any data implying an object can move faster than sound without a sonic boom.
“While engineers can take steps to try and reduce sonic booms, physics says it’s impossible to outright eliminate them,” Senior Editor Andrew Daniels wrote for Popular Mechanics.
But this UFO did just that somehow. Additionally, its movement was different from any other UFO ever sighted. It not only traveled at remarkable speeds but it also moved in bizarre ways current technology cannot achieve.
“In short, there are things we are observing that are difficult to explain,” Ratcliffe told Popular Mechanics.
Whether or not aliens are behind it, the reports about this UFO could be the first taste of an influx of information to come in 2021. Last year, the US Navy released three videos confirming the authenticity of UFO sightings. This summer, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force, an operation of the Department of Defense, is set to release even more information on the same subject. A bill signed in December of 2020 required that the UAPTF disclose what they know about UFOs to the public by June 25th of this year, and there is speculation that it could be very significant. While the Navy released its videos of UFO sightings, the Air Force has been quiet on the topic. Ratcliffe confirmed to Popular Mechanics, however, that Air Force pilots and satellites have also spotted UFOs. Thus, the Air Force could be on the cusp of adding to the UFO conversation as early as this summer.
With this exciting news ahead, it is important for Hillsdale students to know their roots as early contributors to UFO culture. In 1966, a UFO was spotted over Slayton Arboretum by residents of McIntyre dorm. Many witnesses reported seeing bright lights over the arboretum for a number of minutes, before the object moved and faded into the horizon. Fascinatingly, this was just one of many sightings in Michigan at the time, others occurring in Ann Arbor and Dexter. But it was Hillsdale’s UFO that caught the media’s eye and caused an explosion in UFO stories.