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…
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.