by Morgan Stanton, Branch Manager
“What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there are, there’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are. We can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory. They did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so, you know, I think that people still take seriously trying to investigate and figure out what that is.”President Barack Obama, “The Late Late Show,” 5/17/2021
Friday, July 2, marks World UFO Day, celebrated as such in commemoration of the alleged crash of an alien spaceship outside Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Unidentified flying objects have been part of the national consciousness since at least earlier that same year when aviator Kenneth Arnold reported nine silvery disc-shaped objects flying near Mt. Rainier in Washington State. The press popularized the term “flying saucers” after Arnold’s description of the objects, likening them to saucers skipping across water. Since then, thousands of UFO sightings have been reported by credible witnesses — whether mundane explanations have been determined, or not.
Unidentified Flying Objects, or as the Pentagon prefers, “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP),” once again made headlines in 2017 following a bombshell expose in The New York Times detailing $22 million budgeted for the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), a secret government program studying UFOs. The program was shut down in 2012, but according to the article remained in existence off-the-books. The Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force was established in 2020, and in their June 25 report to Congress, neither confirmed nor denied that UFOs or UAPs are extraterrestrial in origin.
From a literary standpoint, UFO literature is plagued with tabloid sensationalism, but there are exceptions. The best UFO books are well-sourced and written by credible authorities. Far from B-movie scenarios of invaders from planet Mars, unexplained phenomena detailed by observers often take on a surrealistic, dream-like quality. Below are some recommendations. As we like to say at Pratt, “Your journey starts here.”