Article by Scott Harrell August 27, 2020 (baynews9.com)
• Every so often, a new UFO sighting or the release of documents reaches the mainstream news and reignites the public’s interest in unexplained aerial phenomena. In 2019, it was the US Navy’s acknowledgement that three leaked and ultimately declassified videos were in fact UFOs. No one, however, would go so far as to say they were spaceships from another planet. This renewed the curiosity of those American who are not too skeptical to consider at least the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life.
• In June of 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee chaired by Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio included a provision in its annual authorization bill requiring various military and intelligence agencies to compile a detailed analysis on UFOs. The analysis would be declassified and available to the public, and must be completed within 180 days of the bill’s passage.
• Not everyone in the UFO-watching community is excited about the subject’s current pop-cultural hype, however. “Coverage is trendy. That’s one of the problems we have,” says Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center. “A lot of UFOlogists are very serious people indeed, doing serious work, and we only get covered if there’s a trend in [the culture].”
• Davenport, a former candidate for both Washington state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives who holds master’s degrees in biology and finance, has directed the NUFORC since 1994. Why did he choose to become the NUFORC Director? “Well, I saw one when I was a kid,” he says. The incident took place while he and his family were at a drive-in theater in St. Louis. “We were watching the movie, and a disturbance started brewing in the theater area,” Davenport says. “We didn’t know what it was. Then there were people walking in front of our car, looking up to the right, to the east of us. “There was an amazingly bright fire engine red object that looked something like an English rugby ball. It appeared to be almost motionless, then shot straight up, and then down behind [a building]. All of that happened in five or six seconds.” Hundreds, “if not thousands” of people witnessed the event. Since then, Davenport says he’s sighted other UFOs that he’s “reasonably certain were not made on this planet.”
• Since 1996, the NUFORC website has racked up more than 90,000 reported sightings, nearly all of them from North America. They include descriptions that run the gamut from “a series of bright spheres moved slowly, one-by-one, in a southerly direction, away from a stationary sphere” (Gloucester, Massachusetts, 7/8/18) to “White light circling a star” (Pearland, Texas, 8/14/20).
• California and Florida are the U.S. states that boast far and away the highest numbers of reported sightings, with 10,015 and 5,602, respectively. Both states are known for a lot of aerodynamic and space exploration research. “People report everything as UFOs, but I doubt that theory is correct,” Davenport says. “I can’t prove it, of course. The population, weather conditions, the fact that people are outdoors quite often [in those states]—there are many, many variables.”
FLORIDA — At least once or so a decade, a story about a new UFO sighting (or newly released documents about an old one) pops up on the
mainstream media’s radar. When that happens, it always seems to instantly reignite the popular culture’s interest in unexplained aerial phenomena.
Last year, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that the objects seen in three widely leaked and ultimately declassified videos were, in fact, unidentified flying objects, in the most general sense of the term. (I.e., nobody in the military is saying they were spaceships piloted by beings from another planet.) The story was picked up by most major news outlets, and once again captured the imagination of those Americans not too skeptical to consider at least the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life.
That renewed curiosity has continued. In June of this year, the Senate Intelligence Committee—chaired by Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio—included a provision in its annual authorization bill requiring various military and intelligence agencies to compile a detailed analysis of all of the other data on unexplained aerial phenomena. The analysis would be declassified and available to the public and must be completed within 180 days of the bill’s passage.
While the ostensible reason for the provision is defense against a potential threat to the U.S., its mere existence serves as evidence of the public’s continued interest.
Not everyone in the UFO-watching community is excited about the subject’s current pop-cultural hype and the public’s cycling infatuation, however.
“Coverage is trendy. That’s one of the problems we have,” says Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center. “A lot of UFOlogists are very serious people indeed, doing serious work, and we only get covered if there’s a trend in [the culture].”
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