By Robert A. Vella

When the news broke recently about a secret U.S. Department of Defense project to study UFOs, public and media reaction focused primarily on the political mechanisms which procured funding for the project.  One of the UFO incidents documented by the project and released to the public, involving U.S. Navy personnel, was generally treated as a secondary issue.  Many of the stories which did cover it did so in a lighthearted manner and included “giggle factor” references to Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster.

I wonder why.  If military leaders are taking this issue seriously, then why is it otherwise so flippantly dismissed?

UFOs are a taboo topic.  Just like racial matters and sexual behavior, we just can’t discuss it.  This is because exploring taboo topics can expose painful realities we are culturally averse to.  It is essentially the fear of the unknown, perhaps the most primal fear we humans can experience.

So, what is so scary about UFOs?  In comparison, we have little fear of discussing the subject of God;  which, if He exists, is a far scarier prospect.  God, according to Christians, is an omnipotent supernatural being who could squash a pesky UFO like an insect, and who is supposedly planning to destroy the world in a coming Armageddon.  The reason is clear.  God is a known quantity.  To the religious, God is on our side;  He is our almighty father.  To the non-religious, God simply doesn’t exist.  UFOs, on the other hand, are completely unknown.

Although not a literal interpretation (U.F.O. is an abbreviation for “unidentified flying object”), UFOs are commonly equated to highly advanced extraterrestrial beings.  Such beings, if they exist and are visiting Earth, would knock Homo sapiens from their self-declared perch atop the biological hierarchy.  Unlike God, who ostensibly oversees us from afar and in mysterious ways, alien E.T.s could get up close and personal right in our smug little faces.  Now, that’s scary!  In an instant, we could be relegated to the status of domestic pets or, even worse, slaves.

Such a frightening prospect makes us belittle it or deny it altogether:

Sure, there might be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and maybe it’s even probable;  but, the distances are too great for interstellar travel.  People who see UFOs are just mistaken, hallucinating, or trying to get attention.  Please pass the biscuits and gravy…

From:  Former Navy pilot describes UFO encounter studied by secret Pentagon program

Fravor was the commanding officer of the A-41 Black Aces, a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron of F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes doing an exercise some 60 to 100 miles off the coast between San Diego and Ensenada, Mexico, in advance of a deployment to the Persian Gulf for the Iraq War, he said.

An order came in for him to suspend the exercise and do some “real-world tasking,” about 60 miles west of their location, Fravor said. He said he was told by the command that there were some unidentified flying objects descending from 80,000 feet to 20,000 feet and disappearing; he said officials told him they had been tracking a couple dozen of these objects for a few weeks.

When they arrived closer to the point, they saw the object, flying around a patch of white water in the ocean below.

“A white Tic Tac, about the same size as a Hornet, 40 feet long with no wings,” Fravor described. “Just hanging close to the water.”

The object created no rotor wash — the visible air turbulence left by the blades of a helicopter — he said, and began to mirror the pilots as they pursued it, before it vanished.

“As I get closer, as my nose is starting to pull back up, it accelerates and it’s gone,” he said. “Faster than I’d ever seen anything in my life. We turn around, say let’s go see what’s in the water and there’s nothing. Just blue water.”

Fravor’s plane headed back to USS Nimitz aircraft carrier, but a separate crew that had taken off toward the object began to search for it, tracking it for about a minute and a half and shooting a video, Fravor said.

But Navy superiors didn’t seem that interested in the event, so those like Fravor who had seen it, took a ribbing and got Men In Black jokes from their colleagues, and didn’t talk about it much afterward, Fravor said.


Fravor, who has been talking about his experience to the To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, the company where Elizondo is a consultant, said he knows that sharing his story has opened him up to ridicule — most but not all of it good-natured — but believes the incident should be more closely studied.

“I don’t think I was a nut-job as an officer in the Navy. I wasn’t drunk, I don’t do drugs. I got a good night’s rest, it was a clear day,” he said. “I think someone should have looked into it. Having talked to some of the other folks, it’s a big frustration that it’s coming out now and wasn’t discussed back in 2004.”


He said he’s been inundated with phone calls since his story was first told on Saturday. Still, the Men In Black jokes continue.

“There is no mercy in my family or my friends,” he said.

Earlier this year, I witnessed my first and only UFO sighting.  I have absolutely no idea what it was.  However, it moved like no man-made aircraft I’ve ever seen, heard of, or imagined.  It appeared to be under intelligent control.  It wasn’t a meteor or optical illusion.  To my knowledge, it wasn’t any other natural phenomenon either.  It could very well have been some still-classified advanced military aircraft, but I just don’t know.  What I do know is the condescending reactions I received from friends, family, and acquaintances.  One person called me “crazy,” and another accused me of lying.  A close neighbor, who is an evangelical Christian, told me assertively that “Man alone is the highest creation of God.”  The MUFON representative who documented my case asked if I’d be interested in doing research work for them.  I replied that although interested, I wouldn’t want the unavoidable ridicule which would result.  She was most understanding.

56 thoughts on “Taboo topics, and why we can’t discuss UFOs

  1. Great post. Clearly, people, like yourself, see unidentified objects in the sky. Some people may not be telling the truth, and others may see things that are later easily explained, but some, like yourself and the pilots in the story above, see things are are inexplicable and truly unidentified. My curiosity flies through the roof about such things because I WANT to know what these objects are and are they extraterrestrial in origin. They exist. Thus, they are SOMETHING. You’re not lying or making shit up, and neither are the pilots. So, WHAT did you see? I hope I live long enough to find out one day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: UFOs, Space Aliens, and Other Weird Stuff | Nan's Notebook

  3. Robert, I have no doubt that what you saw/experienced was real. I find it fascinating!

    To be perfectly honest, I personally think that if you and everyone else do not keep a wide-open mind about such things/events as I know YOU certainly do, then you and/or humanity will sadly have a (very?) difficult time being able to properly unbiasley study it, examine it, better understand it — while simultaneously recognizing our OWN sometimes imperfect sensory-reception (gullible?) and thus realize we CAN be wrong or slightly wrong or slightly right or spot on right — and therefore hinder progress and evolution by unmeasurable amounts… further putting our species at some higher degree of risk/ignorance. :/ 😔

    BRAVO to you Sir! Keep being exactly who you are and being forever curious! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And disheartening. A society that runs on fear, hate and greed can’t function properly. We’re drowning in it and taking the entire planet down with us. It’s sadly disturbing that so many people don’t understand themselves and have twisted priorities – yet many of those same people try to convince other people to be more like them. It’s difficult to understand how we allowed this to happen.

    Done ranting. 😆 Thanks so much for putting up with me.

    Peace and courage.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In the closing paragraph of War and Peace, Tolstoy writes

    in the first case it was necessary to renounce the consciousness of unreal immobility in space and to recognize a motion we did not feel, in the present case it is similarly necessary to renounce a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a dependence of which we are not conscious

    and so borrowing from him, I will say, in the present circusmtance, it will be necessary to admit the existence of other intelligence we may not be aware of its existence or manifestations.

    now that I have written the above, it almost sounds religious mumbo jumbo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I believe you, Bob, because I saw a UFO back in the 60s when I was in high school. A group of us were walking on our way home after a dance when a set of lights caught my attention hovering above the treeline across the street – but it wasn’t close. After hovering for about 30 seconds it took off at an oblique angle faster than I thought possible and disappeared. There’s no way of knowing how long we have been visited – but the sightings seem to have started around the time the space program began.

    I think that research gig would be fascinating.

    Liked by 2 people

    • If people were generally more open-minded, I’d have pursued that research gig.

      I recall your UFO sighting, John. I’m curious, did you discuss it with others and what was their reaction?

      You might be surprised that UFO sightings go back long before the space program, but they weren’t as well documented. Some Renaissance art depicts what appears to be flying saucers, and there are prehistoric cave paintings and petroglyphs which appear to depict humanoid beings resembling the “gray aliens” of modern pop culture. I’ll post a link to the artwork if you want.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I have to ask — to those who say they’ve observed an UFO, what did you think it was?

    Of course you can say, “I don’t know,” but surely your imagination must have kicked in. Did you think it was connected with secret military/government operations? Did you ponder whether it was a “spaceship?” Did you consider it as some sort of natural phenomenon due to the position of the earth/sun/moon? Or perhaps the weather at the time?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t seen one, at least not while sober, but I can tell you what I WANT them to be: Space guys! However, since the objects are unidentified, I must say “I’ve no idea what they are.” Most likely, there’s a scientific, earth-bound explanation for these unidentified objects. Some of the things credible witnesses have seen are quite amazingly described. My imagination runs wild as does my satirical mind wanting to make jokes about it. But, while I believe many, if not most of these sightings are either made-up or scientifically explainable right off the bat, some are not. So my curiosity is aroused, and I want to know, what are these credible witnesses seeing? And, though I WANT them to be space guys, I will not believe that’s the case without extraordinary evidence to support that extraordinary claim.

      Liked by 2 people

    • In my post on my UFO sighting, I clearly state that I have absolutely no idea what the thing was. All I know is that its flight characteristics far exceed the capabilities of human technology (to the extent of my knowledge). So, it could very well have been some secret military aircraft. Regarding other speculation, I’ll leave that to others – I am an empiricist.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I clearly state that I have absolutely no idea what the thing was.

        Yes, you did state that. I simply was asking you (or anyone who’s seen a UFO) to let your imagination kick in as to what it might be.

        From things I’ve read, most people lean towards them being somehow connected with secret government operations. But not everyone … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • That credible UFO sightings are secret military aircraft and technology is a distinct possibility.

          Considering the amount of ridicule I’ve received, it’s understandable why I’m not inclined towards imaginative speculation. Human imagination over unknown phenomena can lead to a lot of craziness… like religion. Maybe that’s how the notion of “gods” came about.

          Liked by 2 people

    • I left a comment on one of your previous posts about UFOs in which I told the story of seeing something in the sky in 1988 that hovered, then moved at an incredible speed and seemed to disappear. I told a friend about it the next night and we both saw the same thing. I figured it was probably a military craft, but I think the possibility of it being from another planet has to be considered. The speed was truly amazing.

      There was an incident in eastern Long Island in the early 1990s that got some media attention. Something crashed in a patch of woods in a small town by the name of Yaphank and cut a swath out of trees as it descended. Radiation levels taken by independent UFO researchers long after the incident were “off the charts.” I know for a fact that something strange happened. A close friend of mine lived in the neighborhood and when she was driving home that night she was stopped at a roadblock and had to show identification to get to her house. Someone showed her an FBI ID at the roadblock. There were tons of police and black vehicles in the area all night. For days roads were blocked off and helicopters were in the area. I’ve always assumed that a government project was involved with that, but of course I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The 1990’s incident you mention is fascinating. Did they (government) ever reveal anything about the incident? Or did it just get “buried in the woods” where it happened?

        I have to admit, it’s something like this that does tend to make one ponder the possibilities. But as I said on my blog, Hollywood has implanted a lot of “space stories” in our imaginations over the years so we do tend to be a bit indoctrinated. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • The Boeing 707 crash is a different incident. It was years later and happened over the Atlantic Ocean. Dozens of people at the time said they saw what appeared to be some type of gunfire hit the plane – as if from a SAM (surface to air missile). I happened to be working all the way out on the eastern end of Long Island – Montauk – that day and was stuck in a traffic jam for hours (worse than usual 😆). That got a lot of media attention. There is an army base in Westhampton, L.I. and they were busy. My friend and I saw army trucks all morning.

          The initial incident I mentioned was barely, if at all, mentioned in mainstram media. Yaphank is a tiny town away from populated areas – eastern Long Island, but west of “The Hamptons”, a busy area in Summer. I only knew about it from the woman I used to be friends with and when reading about it in a MUFON newsletter someone showed me a year or two later.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I just looked it up and (if it’s the same thing) apparently a Boeing 707 jet crashed. Not sure why there would be radiation though. Or UFO investigators. We’ll probably never know.

          Liked by 2 people

        • How could that be the same incident? An airline accident would be immediately reported by the media, the crash site handled initially by local law enforcement, and publicly investigated by the FAA and NTSB. Unless there was criminality involved, the FBI wouldn’t necessarily be involved. It’s not a scenario conducive to UFO suspicions.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Nan, the link you posted refers to TWA flight 800 which was a 747 that exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off New York in 1996. Conspiracy buffs claim that it was shot down by a U.S. Navy ship or some other deliberate agent. I couldn’t find any credible report on the Long Island UFO incident.

          Liked by 2 people

    • A lot of circumstantial evidence does support that belief, Ros. If true, the question of why can be answered sociologically. For much of my life, I had assumed that the general populace could handle extraordinary revelations about our existence. Now, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. Like the possibility of catastrophic climate change, I believe the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations to Earth could destabilize society.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I think people in government and in the military believe there would be rioting in the streets. I think that’s a distinct possibility. Imagine the wild speculation that would ensue from religious zealots. Apocalypticists would go nuts. Who knows what those people would be capable of? That’s as scary as visitation from a race of technologically advanced beings from another galaxy.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Very interesting article indeed. I somehow missed the post about your experiences back in July. I think people are always sceptical of something they have not themselves seen or otherwise experienced.

    The subject fascinates me. Frankly concerning UFO s and fear of the unknown, this is not a problem for me in this regard, in fact I find the thought of an empty universe devoid of all life other then our own precarious existence far more disturbing. It is one thing I would like confirmation of before I die, that there is life on other worlds and that we are not alone in the universe. Nothing would be for me more exciting or propounding interesting than a visitation from an alien species. It is pessimistic to assume – though I suppose not unreasonable – not to mention anthropomorphic to consider that such beings would be hostile with the same tendencies as we humans towards violence and exploitation of one another and the other species with whom we share this world. I doubt an alien species could really harm us any more horrifically then we harm ourselves or have much more capacity to utterly destroy our existence and that of other animals and our very environment than we have already.

    Liked by 3 people

    • to consider that such beings would be hostile with the same tendencies as we humans towards violence

      This has been Hollywood’s cup-of-tea for many years. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • I share your sentiments, cinnabar. I’m not sure how E.T.s would behave towards us. They might have the same emotional conflicts as we do; or, they may have evolved beyond emotion as did the fictional Vulcans in Star Trek.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Robert, you’re right. It was 1996. I worked two separate jobs in eastern Long Island around that time. One in East Hampton in 1996 and one in Montauk in 2000. I confused them. I was stuck in a serious traffic jam the day that plane crashed. Army trucks were all over the place. I don’t know why that would happen for a plane crash with a logical explanation, though. A lot of people reported seeing some type of weapon strike. It very likely could have been some odd fluke in perception relating to light. Possibly? It wasn’t one or two people. Anyway, maybe the army trucks were out in force because of the reports of gunfire. Who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there was a U.S. Navy combat vessel nearby which is accused by some of having fired an anti-aircraft missile at TWA flight 800 (a 747) either intentionally by mistake. The official investigation cited faulty electrical wires igniting volatile vapors in the near-empty center fuel tank as the cause of the accident.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I just typed “UFO crash in Yaphank, LI” and the first thing to come up was a video on Youtube about the incident I mentioned. I only watched a couple minutes of the video. It aired on the History Channel and I recognized a team of “reporters” that I’ve seen before. I don’t remember if these guys were serious investigators or the type who do things for the money, but some of you might want to take a look. I know something happened, I just don’t know what…

    This is a link to a video of the 1992 incident of an air vehicle that crashed in a Suffolk County, Long Island park:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, that show was called “UFO Hunters.” It had three hosts with one being a UFO fanatic, one more middle-of-the-road, and one UFO skeptic. It ran for three seasons before being cancelled by THC following the Dulce Base episode.

      Liked by 1 person

      • OK. I’ve watched very little television the past few decades so I’m definitely out of the loop. 😆 But my wife and I have watched video clips on Youtube and I believe I recognized that team from a few. I watched a bit more and realized the audio is bad, very low volume, I hadn’t realized I’d accidentally turned the volume on my iPad all the way up. 🙂 I saw a part 2 to it and the quality is much better. The show mentions Brookhaven National Lab. Years ago that place was very high tech. I believe (I may be misremembering) it had possibly the first atom collider in the world or maybe the largest or something, the Large Hadron Collider. I believe that’s where the particle called the Higgs boson was either discovered or worked on or something. I’m sorry I’m giving half of the story, but I’m not very knowledgeable in the area of science, though it fascinates me. I don’t recall the details. I think they’re still involved with technology associated with space travel. The lab was purchased by Stony Brook University a while back and has become more secretive over the years.

        A friend that I worked with for years worked there on a construction project once. They were building a pit to hold hazardous waste and, while a thick liner made of some durable rubber or plastic of some kind was being installed in the pit, he saw guys cutting corners. He went nuts on these guys asking them if they realized what would be put into the pit. They calmly said they didn’t care. He spoke with the superintendent on the job, then quit. I told him to go to Newsday or the NY Times about it, but he didn’t want to get into trouble. He said he heard some crazy stories about former employees, but wouldn’t go into details. Strange.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry. Big mistake. 😁 the Large Hadron Collider is that huge collider along the border of France and Switzerland.

    To clarify, from Wikipedia:

    Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) is a United States Department of Energy national laboratory located in Upton, New York, on Long Island, and was formally established in 1947 at the site of Camp Upton, a former U.S. Army base. Its name stems from its location within the Town of Brookhaven, approximately 60 miles east of New York City.

    Research at BNL specializes in nuclear and high energy physics, energy science and technology, environmental and bioscience, nanoscience and national security. The 5300 acre campus contains several large research facilities, including the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and National Synchrotron Light Source II. Seven Nobel prizes have been awarded for work conducted at Brookhaven lab.

    BNL is staffed by approximately 2,750 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel, and hosts 4,000 guest investigators every year.[2] The laboratory has its own police station, fire department, and ZIP code (11973). In total, the lab spans a 5,265-acre (21 km2) area that is mostly coterminous with the hamlet of Upton, New York. BNL is served by a rail spur operated as-needed by the New York and Atlantic Railway. Co-located with the laboratory is the Upton, New York, forecast office of the National Weather Service.

    You know what’s funny? Very few people I speak with in NYC or Long Island know anything about the place. It’s surrounded by woods and a highway.

    Sorry to drag this out. I didn’t want to leave a mistake on the post. I’ll refrain from writing about faulty memories. 😆

    Liked by 1 person

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