Five Legendary UFO Sightings In America (And The True Explanations Of What Happened)

UFOs – or UAPs as they are now known – have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years.

It began with the New York Times’ explosive story, followed by congressional hearings that showed video of mysterious high-speed objects zooming past US fighter jets.

But UFO sightings in America date back decades – many involving the US Air Force and cutting-edge military hardware.

Nigel Watson, author of UFOs of the First World War, told that many of the most famous UFO sightings actually involved classified and state-of-the-art military hardware.

Here are five legendary UFO sightings, along with an explanation of what really happened (spoiler alert: and they weren’t little green men).

The Gorman dogfight, 1948

Edward James Ruppelt researched the Gorman case for Project Blue Book

Edward James Ruppelt researched the Gorman case for Project Blue Book

In 1948, a veteran World War II pilot had a 27-minute white bullet encounter over Fargo, North Dakota.

George F. Gorman told a local newspaper, “I’ve never seen anything like it. If anyone else reported something like this, I would have thought them crazy.’

The incident was recorded in Project Blue Book, a US government attempt to analyze and document early UFO sightings.

Captain Edward Ruppelt directed the US Air Force’s Project Blue Book UFO hunting project and actually suggested the use of the term UFO.

Gorman, 25, was a former fighter pilot and flew a P-51 Mustang.

Gorman flew a P-51 Mustang

Gorman flew a P-51 Mustang

Flying alone for night flight training, he saw what he first thought were the taillights of another plane.

He said: “It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely devoid of lint around the edges. It blinked on and off. However, as I approached, the light suddenly became stable and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it would fly past the tower.”

Gorman tried to crash into it, he said, describing the object as a “disk,” but said it dodged him at speeds in excess of 600 miles per hour.

He said: “Once, when the object was coming head-on, I kept my plane aimed straight at it.

“The object came so close that I involuntarily ducked my head, thinking a crash was inevitable. But the object whizzed over my head.”

Two air traffic controllers and another pilot confirmed his story.

Gorman continued his ministry and never spoke publicly about his UFO experience.

Air Force investigators officially concluded that the encounter was a weather balloon.

Washington National Airport sightings, 1942

Was that behind the airport sightings? (Getty)

Was that behind the airport sightings? (Getty)

In July 1942, the radar at the Air Routing and Traffic Control Center (ARTC) in Washington picked up seven targets – they were moving faster than any aircraft at the time.

Air traffic controller Edward Nugent’s radar indicated they were 15 miles south-southwest of Washington DC.

Washington National Airport’s control tower radar also showed unidentified flares and the two air traffic controllers saw a bright light moving at incredible speed.

Planes were scrambling, and some observers claimed to see lights in the sky, with one pilot describing four white lights traveling 1,000 feet below him, too fast to track.

The situation made headlines across America, and a hastily called press conference declared that the radar flashes were caused by temperature inversions.

But what about the sightings?

Watson said: “What seems likely is that the sightings were caused by the expectation of seeing something to explain these radar signals.

“Some of the sightings were explained using weather balloons and meteors.”

The death of Captain Thomas Mantell, 1958

Mantell examined the object but was never heard from again

Mantell examined the object but was never heard from again

An unidentified flying object was spotted by control tower operators at Godman Air Force Base in Kentucky.

Captain Thomas Mantell was asked to examine it in his P-51 Mustang and reported: “It appears to be a metallic object, or possibly the sun’s reflection off a metallic object, and it is of enormous size.”

Mantell told operators he was flying higher to get a closer look, but then he stopped communicating. The wreckage of his plane was found near Franklin, Kentucky.

Watson said it is now believed that Mantell’s death was linked to a then-classified Skyhook balloon – developed by the US Navy and measuring 20 feet in diameter.

The balloons were used for atmospheric research, particularly for continuous meteorological observations at high altitudes.

Reaching 100,000 feet, the Skyhook expanded to a massive 70 feet in diameter and 100 feet in height.

Watson said UFO fans to this day insist that Mantell’s plane was hit by a UFO – but in reality he probably blacked out while investigating a skyhook.

Watson said: “He had passed out as his plane climbed higher in the sky and was unable to regain consciousness to prevent the crash.”

Flying saucer over Alaska, 1997

The incident sparked panicked calls from the public

The incident sparked panicked calls from the public

Locals called the police in Fairbanks, Alaska, after spotting something truly unearthly in the sky — a 300-foot saucer larger than a planet.

It remained visible throughout the summer night.

What people saw wasn’t a visitor from beyond, but a NASA project that used a balloon to get data on the concentration and weight of stratospheric gases at sunrise.

The Observations of the Middle Stratosphere (OMS) balloon was launched on July 8, 1997 — with a 1,700-pound gondola housing scientific instruments (which locals saw and mistook for a UFO).

Watson said: “Despite publicizing the project, local Fairbanks police received several phone calls reporting a UFO in the sky. After they recorded their data, the large gondola hanging beneath the balloon was parachuted to the ground, where it landed perfectly.”

Red lights in the sky, 1952

A second CIA briefing paper, prepared in August 1952, revealed how Captain Ruppelt, who led the US Air Force’s UFO-hunting project Project Blue Book, was called in at dusk to study red lights in the sky.

Even with binoculars, they couldn’t tell what the object was, so an F-94 pilot was sent to investigate – and found it to be a cluster of three Skyhook balloons.

Phone reports described the objects as violently moving “saucers” of various shapes and colors, some of which orbited observers.

But airfield staff refused to believe the objects were actually balloons, despite the official report, Watson said.

He said staff filed a report saying the sighting “must have been of some other unknown origin.” Five Legendary UFO Sightings In America (And The True Explanations Of What Happened)

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